Mar 272012
 
Authors: Morgan Mayo

Once upon a time, a man went on the radio to talk about a play that he’d written about Apple. Both the radio show host and the playwright know that they are promoting a theatre production. Yet, when it comes to light that the playwright has fabricated a few minor details, a public outcry ensues. The playwright is called a liar and his career is ruined.

Many of you will recognize this as the Mike Daisy fiasco on Ira Glass’s “This American Life.” And while I think we can all agree that it is never wise to lie to Ira Glass, was the explosion of sh*t that rained down on Mike Daisy as a result of his on-air fabrications entirely fair?

After all, he was talking about a play he’d written. Theatre productions are always somewhat fabricated, even if they are based on real events. They are primarily there to entertain and bring in audiences. Even children understand that concept.

You don’t see Andrew Lloyd Webber getting crap for telling us there’s a masked man who lives in an opera house and terrorizes actors. Yet that’s even more of a bullsh*t story than Daisy’s semi-accurate tale of misused Apple factory workers in China.

The world today is so obsessed with being told the truth when really, you people just want to be entertained. And what the public never seems to realize is that nobody is telling you the whole, honest to God truth. Every reporter, news anchor and radio show host has their own agenda and their own subconscious bias about the story they’re telling you.

Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” You’re getting news alright. But you’re getting it at a slant.

Mike Daisy is ultimately just a storyteller. If a storyteller isn’t given the license to tell a few white lies, or slant the truth a bit, he’s not going to be able to tell very good stories, now is he?
As a journalist (if you can even call me that), I walk the line between slanted truth and flat out lie every time I write a column.

I often get accused of lying to you fine people in the Wednesday paper. As if after knowing me for nearly two whole semesters, you still can’t believe that I’ve had to run from the German police, or that I’ve drunkenly fallen asleep in a random person’s shed dressed like the clown from “It” or that I’ve dated an ex-gang banger.

Are these events complete flat out fabrications? Nope. As bizarre as the events in my life are, they did actually happen.

Do I occasionally switch around a few minor details to make a column more interesting, hammer a point home or protect the identity of whatever poor schmuck is unfortunate enough to be dating me at the time? Absolutely.*

Some will argue that even in an opinion column I owe it to my audience to keep the facts straight every single time. But think how boring Wednesday’s paper would be if I did that. I always err on the side of truth, but it’s still fun to keep you guessing.

The important thing to remember is that myself, Mike Daisy, every reporter, playwright and author in the world are all just story-tellers. At the end of the day, the things we write are ultimately just bread and circuses. Keep them entertained and they won’t try to overthrow the dictator.

Awkward times are ahead my friends. But until we meet again…

Cheers!

*Note: I acknowledge that parts of this column showed a breach in a Collegian Code of Ethics standard of not allowing fabrication of any kind. I will adhere to the code closely in the future.

Morgan Mayo is a junior creative writing major. Her column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:30 pm

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