Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the otherwise forgettable David Mamet movie STATE AND MAIN there’s a scene that has always stuck with me. It’s when Alec Baldwin’s character crashes a station wagon in the middle of the night in the center of the New England town where they are shooting their ill-fated film. He emerges from the wreck unscathed, and says,

“So. That happened.”

I think about this moment all the time, and it seems especially appropriate as this is the week Alec Baldwin told me to fuck myself on Twitter.

In some ways it isn’t appropriate at all—I don’t feel unscathed, and I’m very aware of the damage my actions have caused. But now that the media firestorm has passed, and I have made my apologies, both public and private, it’s time to get back to work.

Being humble before the work doesn’t mean running away, and it doesn’t mean folding when the chips are down. In fact, it means the opposite. It means opening your eyes, admitting your mistakes, and doing your job.

When THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS is performed again in just a few days, it will have changed. It will have none of the material called into question on This American Life, and nothing in the piece will break the rules I have developed over years with my audiences.

I’m still refining and developing these changes, but I can tell you it involves cutting about six minutes from a two hour show. There will also be other changes. I’m probing every part of the show, making sure it reflects the complexities and human stories, while shining a light on the labor situation confirmed by numerous news organizations and human rights groups.

It’s a very different world now than it was when this piece was born. In 2010 almost no one in my audiences had ever heard of Foxconn, and most had never considered in a deep way where their devices came from or the circumstances of their creation. The fact that we are awake to these issues now is a massive change that can not be rolled back, and the show must respond to that as well.

Stories are living things. Every time the context of this show has changed—from the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing, to the New York Times’ devastating expose on Apple’s supply chain—it has required changes, and it has made the work stronger.

These have been some of the hardest weeks of my life, and I don’t know what the future holds. But I look forward to digging back in and using everything I’ve learned to do right by my audiences and my work.