The Yes Men Fix the World – Parodies the Monumental Money Grubbers

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Meet Mr. Andy Bichlbaum and Mr. Mike Bonanno, the merry tricksters, who have mastered the act of forging corporate ornateness and media protocols. They call themselves as ‘Yes Men’ and gladly make fool of themselves to cause mayhem on the corporate greed and to make some valid points. The two hoaxers are famous for posing as corporate spokesperson. Andy and Mike participates in International Summit, Conferences or do interviews, pretending that they represent a particular corporation or US government. In 2003, these two American activists made their first documentary, “The Yes Men” (2003). It chronicled their efforts on impersonating the representatives of World Trade Organization (WTO).

The duo takes their pranks further with “The Yes Men Fix the World” (2009), and gives us a glimpse into the mindset of American free-market leaders. The Yes Men’s stunts starts with them going live on ‘BBC World’ in the guise of a spokesperson (named ‘Jude Finisterra) for Dow Chemicals, the company that purchased ‘Union Carbide’, which was responsible for Bhopal chemical tragedy in 1986. As a first step, Andy and Mike sets up fake websites (in the name of Dow), and when eventually BBC contacts them for an interview. On the Live TV, Andy as Mr. Finisterra announces that Dow is taking ‘full responsibility’ and paying up $12 billion in aid to the victims of Bhopal tragedy.

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After the announcement, in the next two hours, Dow’s stocks plunged $2 billion in value. Later, BBC questions Andy about this elaborate hoax asking why they have raised fales hopes among the poor people of Bhopal. In the next few sequences, feeling a little guilty, the duo travel to Bhopal to gauge the repercussions of their hoax. Although many of those victims feel bad about getting duped, they are equally ecstatic about Dow’s plunge, and that at least there is someone to remember about this man-made havoc.

The other segments detail the hoaxes of Yes Men taking on two American giant corporations: Exxon and Haliburton. In an energy conference, Yes Men falsely participate on behalf of Exxon, and try to showcase their company’s newly discovered bio-fuel ‘Vivoleum’. They pass out candles to the attendees, and merrily states that these are made from the corpses of those who died due to climate change. What’s fascinating in these segments is the spectator’s reaction to Yes Men’s antics. Then, they take on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to prove that governments also follow the footsteps of corporate giants, when it comes to persecuting the poor.

Mischief-Making duo Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno

Mischief-Making duo Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno

The short and final harmless prank deals with the activists’ distributing a self-made positive edition of the ‘New York Times’, which has some unbelievable news like: “Court Indicts Bush on Treason Charges”, “Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts” etc. To many conventional activists, the antics of Yes Men might seem as an insult to activism. But, the Yes Men rationalize their hoaxes by pointing out that this is the only way to get World’s attention. It is also ironical when corporate mouthpieces frowns at Yes Men, claiming that they should be ashamed of themselves for misrepresenting their activities.

It’s an irony because those same corporate giants, the ones who wreak havoc on nature, contrive an elaborate multi-million dollar advertisement campaign to sell themselves as saints protecting the environment. The black humor within all the Yes Men’s pranks is the way some of those corporate guys act after such ridiculous pranks. As one ‘Yes Men’ observes, “Instead of freaking out, they just took our business cards”. There is no doubt that like Michael Moore, the Yes Men are also comes off as self-serving. The duo seems to be another set of activities promoting themselves by branding their personalities. However, the Yes Men’s overstated nature could be overlooked at times because of the delicate manner they highlight the inhumane nature of maleficent institutions.

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“The Yes Men Fix the World” (89 minutes) uses absurd frivolities to divulge the complex workings of profit-minded corporates rather than sermonizing with amplified, hard-to-follow statistics.

 

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