Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Yes Men Fix the World



Film Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Political Activists Infiltrate Corporate America in Guerilla-style Documentary


                Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, aka the Yes Men, are political activists with an unorthodox approach to taking on crooked politicians and corporations. These intrepid investigative reporters’ M.O. is to don suits and ties in order to infiltrate organizations with the aim of exposing corruption from the inside out. They are even willing to pose as captains of industry in order to call press conferences to make groundbreaking admissions on behalf of powerful organizations.

                For instance, take the case of Union Carbide/Dow Chemical, the multi-national responsible for the leak of toxic fumes in Bhopal, India which directly led to the deaths of over 25,000 innocent civilians. For years, Dow refused to accept responsibility for the disaster, never cleaning up the waste site or adequately compensating the victims.

                So, the Yes Men sprang into action, mounting an elaborate hoax. One managed to appear on TV on the BBC World News masquerading as a Dow executive, and in that capacity he announced that the firm had finally decided to admit its culpability in the slaughter and that it would be unilaterally paying billions of dollars in damages.                     

            Consequently, Dow stock temporarily plummeted until the hoax was exposed.

More recently, the Yes Men went to New Orleans in the wake of Hotel Katrina where one posed as an Undersecretary for a federal agency, namely, HUD. This time, he informed the national press that poor folks evicted from public housing would be allowed to move back into the projects, even going so far as to stage a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The displaced local folks were elated until FEMA intervened, saying that no such measure had been authorized.

           Sadly, in every instance of such trickery, the beneficiaries’ joy is short-lived, since the Yes Men are invariably exposed as complete frauds. Nonetheless, they are at least able to embarrass avaricious corporate interests by raising pointed question about the diabolical methods of the rich and powerful in a very public forum.

           See all of these irrepressible iconoclasts’ audacious exploits chronicled in The Yes Men Fix the World, an alternately hilarious and sobering documentary co-directed by them and Kurt Engfehr. A guerilla-style documentary which shows just how much havoc two guys with cheap suits and fake websites are capable of wreaking in corporate America.


Excellent (4 stars)


Running time: 87 minutes

Studio: Shadow Distribution

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