iSlave: Lies Never Rang So True


As you may have heard through the digital grapevine of society, the liturgical work of one Mr. Daisey on the horrible conditions of the labor force working to build Apple products was… well, embellished to say the least. If you will recall from my previous entry pertaining to Daisey’s initial “findings” (iSlave: The Labor Force of Apple), I analyzed and applied the words the author had written about the 13 year old child-workers and building jumpers and Hawaiian t-shirts. It is a strange thing to come away from something that evokes such a feeling as those words did to acknowledge that it’s all not entirely true.

Why would this man lie? Why did we believe? Let me provide a parable: in the graphical work of Alan Moore titled “Watchmen,” there is a band of superheroes in the 1960’s that fight crime here and there and solve everyday injustices with their power. However, they are relatively helpless when the impending doom of the Russian Nuclear strike is imminent, they can’t fight nation against nation. One American superhero member decides to set off his own atomic bomb in New York to frame the superheroes as the “ultimate enemy.” I know, crazy. But that consequently unites Russia and America together against him and brings peace to the war, averting an all-out nuclear war. That hero lied about the common denominator enemy so that others could band together and feel like they had one common cause to work against. In a way, this is what Daisey is doing by lying, embellishing, and redirecting the truth to bring about change and awareness in what TRULY is an unequally developed atrocity of capitalism that is Apple’s contractors.

Was what Daisey did wrong? Yes. Does it cripple the trust we put into professional journalism? Sadly, yes. Did it evoke an emotion out of you to hear that probably the most prized possession you own was built by the least prized people in the industry in less-than-American conditions? You decide. Obviously, this isn’t the way for journalism to go in the future, with deceit as a means for information, but for the case where nobody was questioning the sanctity of the all Holy and providing Apple, I believe that this piece was a necessary evil to shine light on the truth with lies.

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10 thoughts on “iSlave: Lies Never Rang So True

  1. I like what you mentioned in the first paragraph as to how difficult it was to hear that Daisey had lied after he had evoked such feelings and emotions in us when listening to his original story. Because we were so invested in him and his story, it makes it that much harder to trust him and believe anything that he was telling us. Of course, there were some aspects of the story that were true, and we understand the general idea as to what has been going on at Foxconn, but like you said, this hurts professional journalism, whether the radio station wants that or not.

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  2. I can see where the argument arises that Daisey embellishment hurts professional journalism. Any sort of falsehood is bad for journalism, a profession obsessed with delivering the truth. Yet, as many of the other posts mention, what really is “true” is quite vague and open to interpretation. The point must be raised that if what Daisy says is true–that his story was theatre not journalism–than it really doesnt damage the field of professional journalism. The real error in this case may rest with TAL, as the reporter admits that he should of retracted the podcast when Daisey refused to provide the contact info for the interpreter. Is Daisy lying or just not telling the full truth? is there really a difference…?

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    1. Very interesting line you’re etching out there, is it lying if it’s not the “whole” truth? Could it be said that Daisey was not as much to blame because TAL vigorously wanted to run with his artistic interpretation of a story? In a way, this was his personal experience – his “artwork” in story telling which wasn’t constrained by the writing guidelines of TAL. To simplify the scenario with another parable, if I stub my toe on a table leg and say to my immediate audience “Ouch, God I hate everything,” a publishing company could easily announce on the cover of their magazine “SHOCKER: Jacob comes out as anti-semitic/atheist!” What..? My point being, what I say to one audience can be extrapolated as something more than what is was meant to be through another venue to their audience.

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  3. I thought the Watchmen reference was very interesting, and a fresh look. I also agree that this is not what we want to see in journalism in the future, but maybe this is a necessary evil. Who else was going to whistleblow on the topic of Apple and their sweatshop production? Who was going to whistleblow on the U.S. Governemnt for the amount of data collection the N.S.A. was performing? Edward Snowden was ridiculed for not reading the documents he leaked in their entirety on television, and saying things that were not necessarily true. But he had documents to fill the gaps he could not. Daisey is ridiculed for lying and saying things that were not necessarily true. Does that mean he has not done his job? He managed to bring the topic of Apple’s production to the forefront of many people’s minds. Did Edward Snowden not do his job? He did not even know everything he leaked until after the fact. Should we have fact checked him before the media decided to run the story?

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    1. Interesting point you bring up about Snowden – I agree, especially in seeing how the reaction towards Snowden was when he essentially risked his life to deliver the information that he did. In earlier times, simple words on paper was enough to cause a reaction and a force for change; however, it would seem that journalism has had to captivate us with the art of story telling, dramatic actions, and artistic articulation to even get the listener to care. And care we have. This cinematic Hollywood-esque level of journalism is pulls the emotion out of us and causes a reaction The question is, how far does that go..?

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  4. I think your parallel to “Watchmen” and rallying troops behind a common enemy with the foundation of a lie is a really interesting take on Mike Daisey and his fabrications on TAL. Can lies be justified if they serve a common good? Yes, Daisey’s piece in the realm of journalism would be considered untruthful and incorrect relay of fact. But journalism aside, were his lies really so detrimental? As Brady also mentions above, what is “true” is really open to interpretation. It is true that the ideology surrounding capitalism and how it affects outsourced labor needs to be put into question.

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