The Yes Men Fix the World

Dir: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr
Star: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno

Somewhere between Borat and the early work of Michael Moore lie The Yes Men, a pair of activists who pose as representatives of commercial or governmental organizations at conferences and in the media - only, they either say what they want the group to say, or promote a completely ludicrous, but just plausible, idea in order to expose the lunacy of the real organization. A couple of examples: speaking for chemical giant Dow, they announced on the BBC that the company would make complete reparation for the Bhopal disaster - a hoax that wiped two billion dollars off Dow shares in 20 minutes. Or they pretend to be from Exxon, promoting a scheme to turn dead bodies into fuel, accompanied by sample candles allegedly made from dead Exxon employee, Reggie. Quite how they managed to get away with this without being arrested, and sued for every penny they have, remains something of a mystery.

Yeah: it's a cheap stunt, that exploits peoples' politeness and unwillingness to make a fuss, mistaking this for acquiescence. But you can't doubt the pair's balls, and they are sometimes stunned by what they manage to accomplish without enormous effort - getting the BBC interview required nothing more than setting up a fake website. While I can't say I agree with their politics generally, in particular their fondness for regulation [I tend to view governments as causing more of the world's problems than they solve], I have absolutely no problem with targetting Big Oil, companies which make obscene profits without apparently possessing much of a moral compass. I would imagine this is likely going to preach to the choir, so is unlikely to change many opinions; however, it does so with a sense of irony that is a refreshing contrast to the usually po-faced liberal lobby, and is all the better for it.

[August 2009]

Company loves trouble
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