I didn’t hear every word of the “This American Life” walkback of “Mr. Daisey Goes to China,” the riveting hour of radio aired in January that turned out to have…well, you can read the stories everywhere. The economical phrase is “numerous fabrications.” But I heard enough, and for the record, the most interesting segment was the one at the end of Act 2, where, after an agonizing grilling by Ira Glass, Mike Daisey (the monologuist whose truthy monologue the show was based on) asks to come back and say a few more things.
Glass notes that he thought Daisey was going to cop to a few more fabrications. But no. He wanted to make an extended argument that embroidering the facts of his monologue about Apple’s manufacturing processes was defensible to make an emotional connection with the theatrical audience, and that emotion raised awareness, and therefore, was a type of truth, if not a journalistic one. (At least, I think that’s what he was saying.)
Glass countered that theater was one thing, and journalism was quite another, but if a person stands up on stage and says, “This happened to me, it really did,” even in a theater, then the audience has an expectation that what they’re going to hear is factual.
This fascinates me. Every so often I go on a tear against urban legends, which used to arrive regularly via email and now arrive regularly via Facebook updates. No, U.S. congressmen and presidents don’t get obscene, six-figure salaries FOR LIFE because someone told you via email. No, a bunch of U.S. Marines didn’t beat the crap out of a guy who stole the Toys for Tots donation bowl; the thing that looks like a clipping from the paper is doctored. No, the Obamas didn’t have that conversation in a restaurant, the punchline of which suggests that Michelle made her husband what he is. And every time I do, someone says, “Oh, I figured it was bullshit, but I passed it along because it’s a good story.” In other words, Daisey may be onto something. When Mitch Albom was caught pre-writing a story that hadn’t actually happened yet — an act he called “a wrong assumption,” some of his biggest defenders were readers, who said, essentially, big deal. He thought it was going to happen, and he’s real busy, and anyway it’s a good story and what’s the harm?
The harm is that facts are facts and truth is truth, and sometimes they don’t always mesh perfectly.
I think that’s the last time Ira Glass uses a theatrical piece as the basis for a show, however.
Some purty good bloggage today, plus a picture. Stand by for links!
Adrianne? Hank? Adrianne’s friend whose name I forget? Remember that bar we went to in D.C. by Union Station, the one Adrianne picked because she has that Irish nose for a good place to meet friends and raise a glass or two? Place called the Dubliner? Guess who stopped by on St. Patrick’s Day. And we missed him.
A great piece in the WashPost about the culture clash perfectly crystalized in the case of the Priest and the Lesbian and the Communion Wafer at Mom’s Funeral, which we discussed last week. A piece of work, that priest:
In 2008, he lectured at the Conservative Institute of M.R. Stefanik in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. He called for moving “away from secular political democracy or political liberalism” in order to “usher in what I would call post-secular democracies.”
“An urgent return to the religion and the metaphysical realism of the West, combined with the promotion of free economies and a sound political foundation is what is now needed to preserve civilization,” he said, according to text provided of his speech, adding that “the Western radicals think they have seen that dark world and they like it, the Eastern Europeans can awake them from their deadly delusion.”
Post-secular democracies. Wonderful.
Finally, how my husband, who just last week remarked, “Never do I feel more out of touch with my fellow Americans than I do during March madness,” spent part of the weekend:
Taking down our basketball hoop.