Monday, March 19, 2012

So I Guess We Shouldn't Feel Bad About Apple...

So I Guess We Shouldn't Feel Bad About Apple...

Remember a bit back when I posted a blog about how Ira Glass and This American Life addressed the Apple company and asked a very serious question: Should you feel weird about Apple?

Well, I guess it's a good thing y'all don't feel weird anyway.
This American Life' Retracts Episode on Apple's Suppliers in China

5:23 p.m. | Updated The weekly public radio program “This American Life” said on Friday that it was retracting a critical report about Apple’s suppliers in China because the storyteller, Mike Daisey, had embellished details in the narrative.

The program’s host, Ira Glass, said in a statement that Mr. Daisey “lied” to him and to Brian Reed, a producer of the program, about details related to injured workers Mr. Daisey had described meeting at Foxconn, a factory in China where Apple products are made.

Mr. Daisey’s story, originally broadcast on Jan. 6, was a 39-minute adaptation of his one-man theatrical show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” The show conveys and condemns the working conditions at Foxconn, and his storytelling helped to galvanize public concern about the production of popular products like the iPad and the iPhone.

But after hearing the radio story, Rob Schmitz, a China correspondent for another radio program, “Marketplace,” found holes in the stories Mr. Daisey told and worked with “This American Life” to disprove certain parts. The results will be broadcast by “This American Life” this weekend, as part of a full hour devoted to the retraction and the explanation.

In a report for “Marketplace” on Friday, Mr. Schmitz acknowledged that other people actually had witnessed harsh conditions at the factories that supplied Apple. “What makes this a little complicated,” he said, “is that the things Daisey lied about are things that have actually happened in China: Workers making Apple products have been poisoned by hexane. Apple’s own audits show the company has caught underage workers at a handful of its suppliers. These things are rare, but together, they form an easy-to-understand narrative about Apple.”
You know, it's not like a new iPad was coming out or anything and Apple stepped in and corrected this piece now, instead of when it first aired. You know, just to let them know that it would be nice if you all, heh, CORRECTED some of your errors..

*smacks pipe against hand repeatedly*
*prepares legal documents potentially suing the shit out of PRI*

You understand how, you knows, you didn't have all the facts last time, right?...

I mean, they even went so far as to put a portion of their website out there to address Apple's responsibility..

So yeah, apparently This American life did a whole fucking hour apologizing for this. One has to wonder why NPR needed to devote an entire hour to this and issue a retraction of the whole hour program. But hey, I guess that Ira Glass is a good enough capitalism-server so that they don't want to fire him but they need to make SOME kind of big sacrifice to appease the gods of right-wing manufactured outrage. Because he, they angered the Liberal Sophist Manufacturing Gods.

Or.. did you just not notice that the story that he lied broke on the day that the new Ipad toy came out?

This American Life should really just be David and Amy Sedaris pieces. Because really, literally all of the "falsehoods" in the story were really just exaggerations at most. he went to 3 factories, not 10, he only talked to 13 year old workers, none were 12, the secret union had 5 members, not a dozen, the secret union met in tea houses, not Starbucks. It was seriously shit that unless you just took on This American Life's reaction as you own it would be give you serious pause, like "why the fuck does that even matter?"

They played the segment where he talked about meeting a worker who had had his hands mutilated by the machines in the factory, and that the worker had never actually seen an iPad on, and was amazed by it when the writer showed him his. The speaker mentioned it was in a Starbucks and then Rob Schmitz was like "No way, they could never afford Starbucks, a coffee costs as much as a day's pay!" And the tone was such that it should make the whole story false, but didn't realize how ridiculous he sounded.. You know, forgetting the fact that the dude probably still had his hand mutilated in the process of working at the factory. "This hypothetical worker is too rich to be working on iPads like the other Chinese slave laborers, your story is clearly false"

They even had Mike Daisey, the writer of the original piece, and confronted him with direct questions. He admitted to bending the truth, but pissed of Ira because he wouldn't say his piece was invalidated. It sounded like he was in an NPR torture chamber, except the liberal version of thumbscrews is Ira Glass whining at you.

Forget the fact that most of the shit sounds like details you'd change just to protect your sources, but hey, they even had the woman who was his translator come on and say that a bunch of the things he said he did never happened. I mean I don't know how reliable that is, but take it for what its worth... Which isn't much.

I will give TAL the fact that the way he tried to romanticized his experience and the information he had by adding all this shit reminds me a little like the Kony 2012 situation, only with a little bit more weird presentation and none of the underlying motives and drunk nudity stuff. But still, I have to question what's the point of all this. How many lies has NPR aired over the years that literally resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Exactly how many hour long retractions did they air for those?

Yeah, Mike Daisey tried to pass his story off as true in a journalistic sense - when he, at best, is a storyteller. A writer. Guess what, as a writer I can tell you that sometimes you will embellish a story. Spice it up so that it's not so fucking boring. Because let's be real - American Life is pretty fucking boring. And while Ira Glass and the TAL people may be in the right to be concerned about their journalistic integrity..

But you really need to consider the suspicious timing of this retraction with the release of the iPad. I'm sure that there was some sort of communication between apple and NPR about this story. It's okay to issue a retraction, but the way in which it was retracted was pretty terrible. The narrative is now some navel gazing meta bullshit about Ira Glass's conscience rather than the actual human suffering that should still be the focus, piddling exaggerations or not.

At any other point, any shill can go on NPR and lie as much as they like, but suggest that Apple and, more generally, Capitalist development in China ISN'T a force for good and suddenly you're under the tightest scrutiny.

What eventually happens here is what generally happens in journalism... in that it has a weird tendency to be self-obsessed. So instead of the question "How actually terrible are conditions in China" the question becomes this bullshit Faux-reflective "What has become of journalist standards?" which is of course much easier and cheaper to run, since otherwise they'd have to do research or whatever. It's really self-serving and dumb.

I think the real problem I have with all this is that Ira Glass accidentally created a tool for really compelling critical and ideological narratives in This American Life and instead of embracing it, he is wallowing in his baby shit and screaming "I JUST WANT TO TELL STORIES!". He probably also read lots of Stud Terkel and just didn't get it. This American Life is Ira Glass's stupid white middle class pastoralist fetishism hour, "Oh wow, these people are living real lives." He says, as he chomps on his soy granola and spreads fig butter on his toast - today he will get in his car, enter his office, and stare at a computer all day not realizing an entire city is living and breathing around him.

This Onion article wraps up perfectly the point I'm trying to make.
'This American Life' Completes Documentation Of Liberal, upper-Middle-Class Existence

In what cultural anthropologists are calling a "colossal achievement" in the study of white-collar professionals, the popular radio show has successfully isolated all 7,442 known characteristics of college graduates who earn between $62,500 and $125,000 per year and feel strongly that something should be done about global warming.

"We've done it," said senior producer Julie Snyder, who was personally interviewed for a 2003 This American Life episode, "Going Eclectic," in which she described what it's like to be a bilingual member of the ACLU trained in kite-making by a Japanese stepfather. "There is not a single existential crisis or self-congratulatory epiphany that has been or could be experienced by a left-leaning agnostic that we have not exhaustively documented and grouped by theme."

Added Snyder, "We here at public radio couldn't be more pleased with ourselves."

The final episode, which explored the universal tribulations of having to live with roommates again in one's mid-30s after a divorce, provided an apt bookend for the project. The completed work is expected to be an indispensable source of information for years to come about the thoughts and tastes of bespectacled cynics prone to neuroses who are actually doing just fine.
So yeah, when I hear a question like "Should we feel bad about capitalism?", all I can think of is that it's the most perfect encapsulation of liberalism. It's like Ira is just staring into a mirror and just not getting what the problem is.

Of course we should feel bad about capitalism. Especially when we're shipping the shitty jobs no one will be willing to get paid pennies on the dollar to do here, over to China so they can make pennies on the dollar - and like it. But hey, at least we're giving them the chance to bootstrap themselves up from the shitty gutter we just tossed them into, right?

What even was worse is that in this retraction, there was eve n more heinous shit added into it. But hey Ira Glass kept on being all "But should I feel bad??" and the guy was like "Well, I can't tell you how to feel, but because that isn't right, but when you buy an Ipad or an Iphone, you're directly supporting a business policy that basically forces manufacturers to cut corners and rely on terrible working conditions. You are responsible for it" and Ira was just like "Yes, but should I feel bad??!"

Then the dude was like "Well, 100 years ago we had similar working conditions in America, and we got together as a nation and said that these working conditions aren't acceptable to put people through, so we got rid of them. Except we didn't get rid of them, we exported them." And then Ira Glass said "So does that mean I should feel bad?"

Basically everything in the story is in some shape true, but not to the standards of journalism, but it might be a composite rather than an actual narrative of Things That Happened To The Writer. So it's going to be like "A Million Little Pieces" where the writer tells a story which has an important message in a moving fashion but since he might have had pain killers during his dental surgery and thus he is a liar and a thief and Oprah is going to give him a mean look!

The final part of the retraction just made me want to punch Ira in the face when he kept on asking if he should feel bad.


posted from an iPhone

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