Mr. Daisey Goes to Shenzhen

And Comes Back as Saint Mike the Evangelist

Comments

2
Dude, you're a pretentious douche. All I can think is you're jealous you can't create and perform at the level Mr. Daisey does. It's obvious, if nothing else, you lack a grasp of basic theatrical story-telling.

Seriously, find another gig. You're a detriment to the community.
3
You apparently can't understand that, when Daisy says, "no one is covering this", he doesn't mean that not a single story has been run. He means that no one is covering this in a way that reaches the people who need to hear it the most; the people who buy Apple products. It's a cheap shot at Daisy by basically attempting to school him in what the truth is and coming across as petty and well...like the other poster said.
4
Great article. Yes, we get to the familiar consumer guilt fairly quickly in the monologue, but then what? I was disappointed it didn't get more complicated than the familiar (and uncomplicated) position of outraged college sophomore realizing where Nikes come from. Sure, the play has the narrative fun of all of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon stuff and the passionate conviction of a Mike Moore film, but unfortunately it felt like it had the duration of all of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon stuff and the political nuance of a Mike Moore film.
5
Mike is an incredibly gifted, and ultimately reliable, narrator. He is an actor and a storyteller, but he isn’t lying to his audiences. His descriptiveness within the tale of 'The Agony...' is compelling because he speaks with truth and conviction. Some of his imagery (e.g. the bloody keyboard) may fairly be criticized as heavy-handed, but they befit Mike’s style as a writer and performing artist. I loved it; you didn’t. Okay. You found parts of the show uncomfortably preachy; I was stirred by elements of powerful sermonizing. Fine. But this review unfairly confuses your aesthetic criticism of his art with an attack on the man’s credibility.
6
To what degree did Daisey actually posit that he was acting as a journalist? Unless that was made fairly explicit, I can't bring myself to think we should expect a storyteller to be something other than a storyteller.
7
Number 6. In this context, if Mr. Daisey isn't telling the truth, there really isn't much fucking point to the performance, is there?
8
At no point did I hear Daisey say that there had been no coverage of this issue -- in fact his stated premise made it clear that he's aware that his audience knows on some level that their electronics are made under terrible working conditions. He did mention a specific NYT article that was cobbled together from press releases and filed from Shanghai, and a specific Wired article written by a blogger who was escorted through the plant by PR personnel without ever seeing working conditions. He also clearly stated that the Foxconn suicides story had been in the news.

Daisey's statements that there isn't any journalism in China referred to the fact that the Chinese government exerts complete control over the news. It was obviously not meant to say that no journalists had ever been there and nothing had ever been written about Shenzhen, although he did pretty clearly imply that foreign journalists found their access to the sites limited and that Foxconn and other companies in the Special Economic Zone took measures to ensure that only puff pieces were written.

You seem to be mischaracterizing Daisey's words and then using that mischaracterization to engage in a general attack on his trustworthiness. It's ironic that this is done in service of your assertion that "facts matter." Spending "under a minute" doing "a little Googling" is not fact-checking.

Your article in this issue about card rooms is great, but this review doesn't display the same rigor. Are reviews not held to the same standard as investigative journalism?
9
@8--"Are reviews not held to the same standard as investigative journalism?"

No.

Duhhh.
10
My big issue with Daisey isn't that he was de-facto tagged as a journalist and then didn't practice due diligence. Honestly, Daisey didn't fudge the details any more than Dave Eggers fudged the details in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Did Eggers err as well?

My big issue with Daisey's piece is that this experience illustrated the villainous neglect and abuse by Apple of Chinese workers in the manufacturing of their products... and yet Daisey still gladly chooses to utilize and defend his personal consumption and usage of Apple products. Why can't he put his money where his moral and principled mouth is and toss his Apple gear off until things change for the better?
11
@10 it's not like you can avoid labour issues by buying Dell. All electronics manufacturers use companies like Foxconn these days.

Acer, Intel, Cisco, Dell, Sony, Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft and more are all Foxconn clients. Good luck avoiding all of them. Then there are the other manufacturing firms with similar labour problems.

so why does the documentary maker focus on Apple? Mainly because Apple has a self-consciously leftwing client base who are more interested in such issues. Same reason that Greenpeace picked on Apple even though they have a relatively good environmental record. Apple is thus a good firm to apply pressure on.
12
Hey, man, all that's cool.

Anyway, my iPad came in the mail yesterday. I'm a horrible person, the blood is on my hands, hell's doormen await, etc. I own it, I get it, I'm good.

Now, back to GarageBand...
13
I saw this performance in Washington, D.C. and I found it moving and troubling. I think it's immaterial whether other journalists have covered this or not, if Apple is still using firms that use child labor, then it is important for Apple purchasers to write Steve Jobs directly and ask him to stop. I think Mike Daisy makes a terrific point that 12 and 13-year-old children should not be working 12-hour days to provide Americans with electronics. Apple and other firms should insist on independent monitoring of Foxconn and other abusive Chinese firms to ensure good labor conditions for workers. It's really not going to add much to the price of our toys, and it's the right thing to do.
14
Another interesting point is that 'people whose backbones were fused together by standing for hours at a time' do not exist.

Spinal fusion is not something that happens because you spend hours upright, though repetitive stress might result in damage where spinal fusion was a treatment option.

It could also occur due to certain forms of arthritis or similar medical problem - but just being upright isn't going to cause it.
15
Great show, lazy review. Kiley misrepresents what Daisey actually said, as other commentors have pointed out, and he apparently didn't care enough to fact check his own recollections.

Nice strawman, Brendan - were you feeling guilty about your iPrides when you wrote this, or were you just being lazy?
16
Daisey picked Apple because it is THE perfect example of the fetishization of commodities. What does that mean? Read chapter one of Das Capital.
17
11. Daisey's demonstrative vitriol falls a tad flat when you learn he has no real problem with remaining loyal to a company whose abuses towards humanity he saw first-hand.

Once he can verify with his own eyes that every other company you listed is doing the exact same thing Apple is, then your point makes a lot more sense.
19
@17 he can do it by googling Foxconn's client list, which would take him about 5 minutes. Do you think they have different labour issues with different clients?

About the only top PC manufacturer who doesn't use them is Lenovo, who don't need to because they're chinese themselves.
20
Ultimately, his vitriol is all for naught then. He and other Macolytes will continue happily using Apple products, thus economically validating Apple's decision to torture those Chinese workers.

If Apple economically suffered, you'd have the leverage to get them to stop. As it stands, you're nowhere close. Steve Jobs and Co are making money hand over fist.
21
I do not understand the appeal of Mike Daisey or his endless one man shows. I wish he would make like the capital of Finland, and Helsinki.
22
It's probably worth noting that a handout distributed after the performance (also found on the Rep's website) advocates specific follow-up actions, and explicitly states Daisey's position on several issues touched on in this thread.

He doesn't mention an all-out boycott, so any implications of hypocrisy on the performer's part are rather unfounded. He also reiterates the universality of the problem and explains his focus on Apple in particular:

"Apple is hardly alone—every major electronics manufacturer uses the same inhumane labor practices in the creation of their products. We are advocating for pressuring Apple specifically because they are industry leaders, but some may wish to call Nokia, Dell, Samsung, LG, Motorola and the rest."

Personally, I found the performance quite moving, and I think the review totally misses the power of the humanization brought to the issues at hand by the storytelling technique. It focuses instead on the critique of a few heavy-handed aspects of the delivery (which comprise a very small part of the monologue overall) and some debatable journalistic expectations (that other commenters here have addressed well).
23
Hey there everybody. I've been out of town and off the internet for awhile, so let me explain what I (apparently) failed to explain in the review:

Daisey doesn't explicitly say that nobody except him has ever talked about the abuses in Shenzhen. But he very clearly sets up the dramatic conceit that that's the case: he happened upon the photos on the iPhone, he went to Shenzhen despite reporters' mockery, he cites only two stories reporters have ever written about the site (one a cobbling-together of press releases by a NYT reporter who'd never been there, one a stooge who was officially paraded around and never saw the *real* Shenzhen that Daisey purports to have been), and generally gives the impression that he is Ishmael come to tell us the truth about a land where everyone else fears to tread.

That is disingenuous storytelling because it just ain't true. He could've solved this problem easily by taking the reporting that's already been done as a jumping-off point and digging further. But by pretending (even obliquely) that he's broken the story, he turns from reporter into Barnum and swindler.

I'm all for Daisey turning reporter: I think it's fantastic, and I wish he would bring us more under-reported stories. But when he moves from autobiographical, what-it's-like-to-be-Mike-Daisey into reporting, he has to be held to a different, higher standard.

He's a fantastic storyteller, and this story is worth telling. But if the audience can find one untruth, one fudging of the facts, the whole thing (and its worthy, suffering cast of characters) is cast into doubt.

And the people of Shenzhen, and all the other people Daisey wants to report on in the future, deserve better than that.
24
Brendan, you're just repeating yourself, and to no effect. #3 and 8 have it right.
25
I think the point of the monologue was not to break this scoop on labor abuses. Taken together with the anecdotal digs on Steve Jobs and all of the supposed tech geeks "out there in the darkness" the message was think before you buy. Whether a journalistic standard was met or not, I think this is a message that almost anyone - liberal or not - could get behind.
26
Hmmm.
27
Prescient.
28
I wish Ira Glass had read this post before broadcasting that Mike Daisey episode back in january.