This American Life, a journalism authority retracted Mike Daisey’s monologue. Additionally Daisey regretted airing his performance through this reputable news source. However, Daisey, much to the frustration of This American Life, adamantly defended his work in other realms. While Daisey admitted that it was a mistake to frame his monologue as journalism he claims that it remains truthful in the “theatrical context”.
Different media and entertainment outlets elicit degrees of factuality depending on their classification and reputation. “Retraction” made me question how much gray area there are for facts. Mike Daisey should not be characterized as a liar if we view the world as purely subjective, and journalism as a personal adaptation of the truth. Yet, if we view the world using this lens at what point can we delineate between fact and fiction?
The fact that Daisey spoke of his “conflicted” feelings, and felt “trapped”, and became “sick about it” suggests misaligned motives. I support Daisey’s efforts to expose a truth, defend the voiceless, and bolster empathy for the Chinese workers who experience harsh and sometimes dangerous working conditions. His intentions were to make people care about the suicides at the factory. Mike states, “I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality of my trip”, and “everything in the monologue was build from the truth.” I don’t believe Mike’s story should be classified as pure fiction, however, he misled the public by representing his piece as pure fact, rather than a narrative and interpretation of an assortment of experiences. This choice gained him press, fame, and temporary prestige, but it also caused social, economic, and political repercussions.
The power of truth is undeniable. We all have the ability to misrepresent reality.