The word “lie” can be defined in this context as an intentionally false statement. The Retraction, revealing that Mr. Daisey is in fact a liar, did not actually come as a huge surprise to me. Looking back, his vivid descriptions of angry guards carrying guns outside of the factories almost reminded me of a scene out of North Korea, rather than China. What really astonished me was that Daisey never fully admitted that most of his original story was fabricated. He claims that he is not a journalist, he is an artist, and thus he should be held to different standards. However, Daisey did not say beforehand that his segment was a work of fiction, intentionally trying to mislead his audience. Yes, he did reveal some overarching terrible truths about Apple. The truths that he revealed are still terrible. He did not need to weave a web of lies to get his points across. Daisey’s segment exposed shocking practices at Foxconn factories in China where Apple products are made. That is a truth. Mike Daisey fabricated countless details in order to get his fifteen minutes of fame. That is my speculation. His segment never would have gotten the amount of attention that it did if he had announced that it was a fictional “work of art” to begin with.
I think the most shocking fabrication of all was Daisey’s claim that he was unable to contact his translator, Cathy. A simple Google search for “Cathy Shenzhen translator” brought me to her contact information. She also has a personal website (http://www.shenzhenhelper.com/) that is written in English and describes her services. This day in age, with unlimited information available to us at the touch of a button, Daisey probably should have thought twice before lying about how difficult it was to get in touch with his translator.
After doing a little research, I found that Daisey also misrepresented his show as a work of “non-fiction” when he performed at various Public Theaters (http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/theater/defending-this-american-life-and-its-mike-daisey-retraction.html?_r=0). The fact that he has misrepresented his show in multiple places reinforces my belief that Daisey deliberately wanted his audience to believe that everything he said was true. If he promoted his show as “non-fiction”, then it should have been just that—nothing but the facts. As I said before, I am not surprised that that he is a liar, but I still was duped into believing him. I believed that his interviews with the 13-year-old Chinese girl who worked at the factory, and the former Foxconn worker whose hand was destroyed, were true. Even though I want to be mad, I am not. Daisey shed light on the harsh labor conditions that these people really do work in. Maybe Daisey’s fifteen minutes of fame will ultimately lead to change in China. Then again, maybe not.
If Daisey were Pinocchio, I wonder how long his nose would be by now…