Mike Daisey, the artist behind the stage show The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs, has finally apologized for lying about working conditions at Foxconn, Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partner. Daisey was recently caught in his lies by This American Life, who retracted their original episode called Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.
Daisy was featured on This American Life and through other outlets, in which he presented a grizzly tale of underage workers, a man with a deformed “claw hand” (which was destroyed on an iPad assembly line), and other atrocities. Daisey has since admitted that most of the elements in his story, particularly the bits about 14-year old workers, abusive work conditions, and the claw hand man, were completely made up.
When I said onstage that I had personally experienced things I in fact did not, I failed to honor the contract I’d established with my audiences over many years and many shows. In doing so, I not only violated their trust, I also made worse art.
This is not the place for me to try and explain my good intentions. We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. In fact, I think it might lead to where I’m sitting right now.
Now that he’s been exposed as a liar, his colleagues and – perhaps more importantly – the venues willing to pay him for his work are pulling away from him, and he is finally able to understand what he’s done.
This isn’t to diminish the very real issue of factory conditions at Foxconn and other Apple-contracted facilities. They’re certainly not ideal by Western standards.
But that doesn’t mean liars should be able to make money by exploiting people’s good will, either.