Arts Desk

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

On the cover of this week's print Washington City Paper is a photo of Mike Daisey performing his now-acknowledged-to-have-contained-falsehoods play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Daisey is bringing the monologue back to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company this month, and Chris Klimek explores why he's still performing it and how the controversy over his invented facts has changed it.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about photobombing with Mike Daisey.

At Taylor Gourmet, watching Barack Obama order hoagies:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

On CNN, watching Wolf Blitzer report that the Supreme Court had overturned the Affordable Care Act:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

Watching Steve Jobs introduce the iPad:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

Outside U.S. District Court, watching Harry Thomas Jr. leave after pleading guilty:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

After the derecho:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

And finally, EVERYWHERE:

Mike Daisey, Everywhere

Illustrations by Brooke Hatfield

Daisey photo courtesy Woolly Mammoth; HTJ photo by Darrow Montgomery; Taylor photo via NBC Washington; Jobs photo via YouTube; derecho photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

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  • Keli


  • Tom

    Really? no flood of comments yet? I guess the WCP has out-geeked all the normal haters with this cerebral art piece. Yeah, sorry they didn't write an article about some local matter everyone can harp on, like living or parkign near a university. Guess everyone was hoping for a cover story about the mayor; then you'd see a ton of comments here. Shame on WCP readers, there should be a lot more comments here by now. You're showing your philistine roots here.

    Anyhow, I have an answer to Chris Klimek's almost rhetorical question "Why is Mike Daisey still performing his disgraced Apple play?" Here's why: because like Michael Moore, he thinks the ends justify the means. Aggro liberals (just like aggro conservatives) get so far ahead of themselves with their message that they feel justified in taking liberties with the truth in order to bolster and spread their narrative.

    Also, because like Mike Daisey said, only about half his audience is aware of the scandal, so there is still a market for his performance.

    The fact that the Wooly Mammoth Theater Company's Howard Shalwitz opines that "the show now invites discussion of the ethics of storytelling along with the ethics of global manufacturing" only confirms my scorn for amateur post-Warhol art philosophy, where if you have any random homeless drunk ramblings of sophist balderdash verbiage, then you potentially have some new ground breaking high concept shell game of vacuous pomposity covering for common folly and base flim-flammery.

    Also, it's totally unimaginative to go after Steve Jobs, who is an icon along with his precious Apple brand - an easy and obvious target. What about Motorola? Samsung? Nokia? I'll bet their phones are made in very similar ways if not identically so, but the names of their respective CEOs/ founders just wouldn't ring a bell with your average smart phone schmo.

    You know what? I hate art. I have more art in my little finger than these people, and you know what else? I hate my little finger.

  • Randy

    This is ridiculous, and I can't believe that the City Paper would support such a crock. So we need people like Daisey to make up shit in order for us to care about the poor and downtrodden?

    Well, that's all fine and good. So Daisey lied about the conditions he "saw" at Foxconn, and yet according to the City Paper, he "did not lie about portraying the circumstances at Foxconn as hellish."

    Really? And City Paper knows that to be true? How? Has Chris Klemak seen these hellish conditions? Or does he just assume that Daisey's lie must somehow be a truth?

    And if the conditions at Foxconn are as hellish as Klemak determined, then why didn't Daisey report on THOSE conditions? Are we to believe that Daisey saw really hellish things going on, but ignored those and made up shit -- just for the hell of it? If there really are such hellish conditions, why didn't he comment on those? Why make up shit when he's got so much shit to write about?

    What a fucking hall of mirrors the City Paper wants to enter. I guess then, "artists" can make up their own shit because they know a "higher truth."

    Well, that's just fine and dandy. Perhaps Daisey's ex-wife can just make up shit about Daisey and her marriage to him. She can write up a play that has him physically beating her and humiliating her. If he complains about it, she can just say that she was was just using artistic license to describe the hellish life she led, and Chris Klemak of course defend her because, after all, she's didn't misportray him. Because he just KNOWS.

    Here's the danger in this sort of crap. What's the stop a conservative from writing a play about the hellish life of gays and lesbians? Or the brainwashing techniques that liberal professors use on our college campuses? Or the death panels that are a part of Obamacare?

    Who cares if these things are all lies, since they all tell portray the evils of homosexuality, liberals and Obamacare, right? how the hell can you argue that they shouldn't do that when you say that we can do it with impunity?

    This is why this is so dangerous -- Isn't it enough when Fox News makes up crap? We are all outraged over it, but they don't care because they think they are pushing a higher truth. Now we are saying, yeah, it's okay to lie, because we need tell a higher truth.

    Gene Weingarten has it exactly right. If Apple has atrocious conditions, then talk about them. If they don't, then there is nothing to talk about. But to make up shit just to get people to hate Apple is disengenuous at best.

  • SJN

    The abusive labor conditions at Apple's contract factories in China have been documented, repeatedly and credibly, by respected investigators and journalists. Given the information readily available, no honest person can doubt the fundamental accuracy of Daisey's critique of Apple's policy of profiting handsomely from human misery. Indeed, most of the incidents Daisey falsely claimed to have personally observed did, in fact, occur and have been observed and documented by others, including workers maimed as a result of the shoddy safety practices of Apple's suppliers, the presence of underage workers in some of these factories, etc.

    In view of all of this, the howls of righteous outrage from various quarters about Daisey's "lies" are a curious phenomenon. Personally, I wish Daisey had been up front about which elements of his narrative were embellished, but since the the story he tells is essentially true, I am a lot more interested in whether Apple is going to stop visiting abuse upon its vast Chinese workforce than I am in whether Daisey violated tenets of artistic and/or journalistic ethics.

    When you find yourself feeling more emotionally aggrieved over one person's artistic choices than over the abuse and exploitation of hundreds of thousands of people by the most admired company in the world, it's time to re-evaluate your moral priorities.