Heard of the Yes Men? They’re an awesome group of anti-corporate, anti-globalization tricksters headed up by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. In their own words, they engage in “identity correction”: “Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.” Exposing the greed and dehumanization of corporate culture, they set up fake websites, get invited to speak at conferences and on television, and—in outrageous fashion—point out the seriously misguided, destructive, irresponsible actions of some of the largest corporations in the world. They also print spoof issues of major newspapers that highlight the realities of the world we live in and visions for a better one.

The Yes Men Fix the World

The Yes Men Fix the World

This past Friday, they screened their new movie, The Yes Men Fix the World, at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, followed by a Q&A (Andy appeared in person, Mike appeared virtually via a laptop Skype hookup)—all to benefit WBCR (Berkshire Community Radio). While I find watching their movies a little stressful, I think they’re innovative, entertaining, and important. Whether they’re impersonating Dow Chemical and highlighting their refusal to do the right thing and take responsibility for the Union Carbide disaster in Bhophal or taking on Halliburton with fake Survivaball pitches (side note: a WBCR board member appeared in a Survivaball at the beginning of the Q&A), they’re exposing the cult of consumerism and capitalism. As they say in the movie, what looks normal to those on the inside of it looks crazy to those on the outside. They provide the much-needed view from outside of the cult, offering up the craziness for all to see.

Check out their latest stunt—announcing that the Chamber of Commerce has reversed their stance on climate-change legislation (which the CoC is strictly opposed to):

Last month, as Andy was telling us in the Q&A after the screening, the Yes Men were sued for the very first time, by the Chamber of Commerce. Surprised that they haven’t been sued more often? The way Andy explained it, engaging in a lawsuit that would give the activists more opportunity to state their case and point out to the world why the corporations they target are the ones that deserve to be on trial usually isn’t in the best interests of said corporations, who spend millions of dollars trying to present a clean, shiny image to the public at large.

Next they’re screening their film in DC, and then they’re off to Copenhagen. Be sure to see the new movie, check out what they’re up to, and find out how you can get involved.

Other gems from the Q&A:

  • “We’re not actually great actors at all, we just play them in front of corporate audiences.”
  • “There are progressive people in government, they just don’t act that way because we’re not taking to the streets and carrying pitchforks and setting cars on fire.” (One of them noted how hard it is to find a pitchfork nowadays.)
  • They’re starting to organize educational workshops for people interested in anti-corporate pransktering, “the Yes League for Something Something” (they’re still working on the name). “We give away our secrets and you can do it yourself!”

Seen either of their movies? What did you think?