Monday, November 05, 2012

Interview with Henry Rollins on his "Capitalism" Tour - Arts Desk:

Do you know who Mike Daisey is?


Well, he’s a spoken-word performer who got into trouble because he made up a few pieces of a hit nonfiction show he had about the working conditions in the Chinese factories where Apple products are made. I wanted to ask your feelings on that, because you use a lot of hyperbole and exaggeration onstage. What you and Daisey do is not exactly the same, but you’re someone who, like him, takes trips to places he knows much of his audience has not seen and comes back and talks about what he experienced there. You both seem to want your audiences to be more conscious of America’s place in the world. I understand that oral storytelling is a format where it’s more difficult to cite things than it is in writing, but is that something you think about—when it’s okay to exaggerate and when it isn’t?

Of course. When I use hyperbole, which is every second, I try to make it exceedingly obvious. When you’re drilling down on the real hardcore facts, I take that very seriously, and I expect someone to go and fact-check it. I’m not trying to pull the wool. I’m someone under a fair deal of scrutiny. But when you’re yelling and making people laugh, obviously you’re putting it on. That’s what you do. It’s fun.

I’ve been telling stories about when I did a bunch of documentaries for National Geographic last year. In one of them, I jump on the back of an alligator in southern Florida. This cameraman and I used to bug each other all day just to kind of get through the day. In the story, I have him saying, “Get him, get him!” That didn’t happen; he was busy filming me. But I think it’s fairly obvious he wasn’t yelling at the alligator to bite me in the head.

Other places, I don’t have any need to do anything like that. When you go to see some of these places, the truth is just fine. Also, I usually have a camera with me, so I’m taking photos of it. Later in my notes, when I’m trying to describe the place, I go back to the photos and try to get a good, accurate description.