Friday, April 27, 2012

Looking For The Line Between The Truth And A Lie:

I confess to having a similarly tolerant attitude to Mike Daisey, the performance artist whose This American Life monologue about his visits to factories in China where Apple products are produced turned out to have had factual inaccuracies. Ira Glass, whose radio show This American Life works more as a story telling hour than a news show, was horrified to learn that one of his storytellers had taken factual liberties. His outrage seems inappropriate and silly to me.

There are different standards for different kinds of story telling, different kinds of nonfiction. And anyway, none of Daisey's errors have any bearing on the importance of his central assertion: that consumers should be aware of and care about the working conditions in China's high-technology factories. There's two sides to this question, of course. But they don't really turn on the sort of factual mistakes or distortions (which were they?) made by Daisey.

I saw a movie the other day; it began with a text screen: "This is based on a true story. Only the facts have been changed." Sometimes, it seems to me, that gets it about right.