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Forum 2018-19

Forum 2018-19 Agony and Ecstasy

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  1. Some links regarding the controversy over Daisey's play, with resonance for what we've been looking at concerning 'media ecologies' -

    To begin, Mike Daisey’s blogsite, where his monologue is available for free download: “With its 2.0 release, THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS is now sharper and stronger … and it is ethically made”:

    A 2012 CBS story, “The Dark Side of Shiny Apple Products,” on Mike Daisey’s performance piece (with excerpts), positioning it within the frame of investigative journalism:

    The original adapted-for-radio broadcast of Mike Daisey’s piece on This American Life:

    The subsequent retraction of the broadcast, itself taking up an entire episode of This American Life:

    A Washington Post ‘opinion blog’ detailing the ‘truth vs. facts’ of Daisey’s performance:

    A New York Times article, “In China, Human Costs are Built into an iPad,” by reporter Charles Duhigg:

    A handwringing piece by James Fallows of The Atlantic on the fallout from the Daisey affair:

    And one of the few critical examinations of the story, drawing attention to some of the contexts for the firestorm over Daisey’s show, including corporate support for National Public Radio shows like Marketplace:


    In light of the NPR episode, and in keeping with our focus on the environmental aspect of media communications, a few points for consideration:

    - Daisey’s play belongs to a genre of performance monologues that includes the work of writers and actors such as Wallace Shawn and Spaulding Gray, as well as that of activist filmmakers such as Michael Moore. Comparing Daisey with these artists, we might ask what the ‘rules’ of the genre entail.

    - Consider the various institutions implicated in the Daisey affair – corporations, journalism outlets, governments, trade associations, NGOs, etc. Exercise: draw a ‘map of the field,’ Bourdieu-style, involving the various players in the story.

    - The retraction episode aired on This American Life lays great emphasis on Daisey’s departure from the facts of what he witnessed first-hand during his visit to Foxconn in Shenzen. In both journalist and theatre circles Daisey’s inventions are often referred to as a ‘betrayal.’ What is the nature of this betrayal?

    - The Daisey affair has parallels with a famous episode involving the testimonial narrative I, Rigoberta Menchú, the story of a peasant woman recounting her witness of US-supported government killings in 1980s Guatemala. With the Menchú story in mind, it may be useful to discuss the implications of truth-telling as a function of personal life-narrative vs. the accountability of collective testimony.

  2. This piece of photographic journalism is an interesting and depressing look into what living in a 'coffin cubicle' (like on p.49 of the monologue) looks like. These photos are no tspecifically from factory dormitories, but still gives you the flavor of that type of living situation.