This scene is the most emotionally packed three minutes of one of the best-selling movies in history. It’s the final death of a star-crossed lover pulled from Rose by society and a tragic event. It’s the moment when even the most virile of men are happy they’re in a dark room because their eyes may start to tear up. It’s a moment when one may question how important economic status is when true love is involved.
However, when I watch this emotionally packed scene, I think of only one thing: Jack totally could have fit on that board.
James Cameron’s one little factual slip up ruined the whole premise of the story and dampened any strong emotions I may have felt throughout the movie.
Mike Daisey’s innumerable factual slip-ups have the same effect on his theatrical monologue, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”
I am a firm believer that humans are social creatures. We learn best through stories and anecdotes. Our senses of empathy and sympathy, which are evoked through these tales, move us to great extents to amazing distances for fellow man. Novelists, poets, musicians and play-writes are masters of breaking the complex and confusing world into a chapter, a stanza, a melody or an act so the audiences can better understand the problems, which prevail in our world today. However, a small crack in credibility can ruin even one of the most successful films in history, and it can certainly ruin a play that is a social commentary.
One of Mike Daisey’s most poignant scenes came when he described men that could not even pick up a glass because their hands were shaking from n-hexane poisoning. Did anyone stop to check whether shaking is a symptom of n-hexane? According to the Chronic Toxicity Summary of the substance from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of California, it is not. While there are many effects, they are generally loss of motor function, and not erratic movements. Not only did Mike Daisey not meet these people, he did not even come up with a credible lie. This factual flaw, not even mentioned by This American Life, broke the emotional attachment I had to the story, and thus my sense of empathy and my desire to take a stand for a social change.
By not using the correct facts in his social commentary, Mike Daisey completely failed to reach his goal of inspiring the masses to boycott Apple products until working conditions in Chinese factories improved, just like James Cameron failed his goal of making me cry when I noticed that Jack could have fit on the board.