Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I know, I know, I have to write about Mike Daisey, and the ongoing battle between levels of "truthiness"

But I also have a lot of reviews to plow through.  (Unlike many other bloggers, I actually go to the theatre and review it!)  As you may have picked up from my comments around the 'sphere, however, I'm somewhat in sympathy with Daisey, and certainly in sympathy with his cause, and I'm skeptical of people like Ira Glass calling foul, when the entire "verbatim theatre" field has been rife with exaggeration and prevarication from the beginning.

Still, it's worth noting that now people are popping out of the woodwork with the goods on earlier Daisey pieces, such as 21 Dog Years, his supposed "memoir" of his years working at Amazon.  Here's an interesting blog post from one of Daisey's co-workers calling the piece "truthy," at best.  For instance, in an interview about the show, Daisey made the following claim:

Seattle Weekly: How much did you really deal with Jeff [Bezos, CEO of Amazon], and have you heard anything from former co-workers about his reaction to the show?

Daisey: I saw Jeff all the time, almost every day.

I worked like 100 meters from Daisey, and saw Bezos maybe three times in as many years. Like I said: truthy . . . In the context of an interview, "I saw Jeff all the time is a lie, plain and simple.

Daisey in mid-fib on Bill Maher.

But the blogger adds:

But if Daisey said the same thing on stage as part of “21 Dog Years”, I wouldn’t have objected. I guess I agree with Daisey when he says that the tools of theater are different than the tools of journalism . . . After all, no one thought that all of the workplace events recounted by David Sedaris in “Santaland Dairies” were literally true, and that story was everywhere. Heck, it had even appeared on everyone’s favorite radio show, “This American Life”.

I think what is opening up for me about this whole episode is the intriguingly naive way in which the culture has come to worship first-person authenticity - even though over and over again, we see the supposedly "authentic" biographies we've invested in come crashing down around us as mosaics of half-truths and outright lies. What does this say about us? Why are we locked in this trust/distrust tango with the authorial voice?

Meanwhile, Gawker has laid down a snarky challenge - anybody want to fact-check The Last Cargo Cult?

No comments:

Post a Comment