Mike Daisey, Steve Jobs, and A Controversial MonologueBy: Amanda Crum - March 19, 2012
Mike Daisey is a respected writer, actor, and performer of the stage who has toured the world with his one-man-shows. So why is he embroiled in such a controversy regarding Apple and it’s founder, Steve Jobs?
For statements he makes in his latest monologue, entitled “The Agony And Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs”, which were broadcast on a public radio program called “This American Life”. The statements include Apple’s relationship with Chinese factory workers and their conditions, which Ira Glass, the host of the program, says were proven to be false after the show’s fact-checkers were unable to verify his account of meeting those workers.
The monologue has been at the Public Theater since its debut last year, but Oskar Eustis, the theater’s artistic director, has now added a disclaimer before the opening of the show and has edited out the parts he “doesn’t feel he stand behind”.
Daisey defended his work on his blog, stating, What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed “This American Life” to air an excerpt from my monologue. “This American Life” is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.”
In a post made today, Daisey vented about the whole experience, calling it “galling” that the public is so “eager to dance on his grave… so they can return to ignoring everything about the circumstances under which their devices are made.”
He also points out, “There is nothing in this controversy that contests the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing. Nothing. I think we all know if there was, Ira would have brought it up.”
Charles Isherwood of the New York Times reviewed “The Agony And Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs”, calling it an “eye-opening exploration of the moral choices we unknowingly or unthinkingly make when we purchase nifty little gadgets like the iPhone and the iPad and the PowerBook.” Despite his appreciation for the show, however, Isherwood took a different view after the controversy broke.
“The problem is Mr. Daisey’s particular brand of theater is experienced by the audience as direct and honest testimony to events that he witnessed,” he wrote in the Times. “But in his stage shows Mr. Daisey is the sole voice we hear, and while his monologues undoubtedly contain much writing that is obviously opinion, when it comes to describing his experience, we take him at his word.”