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The Yes Men – The Travelling PranskstersActivists

Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them.

The Free Market has pretty much become the new world religion; we serve it, governments allocate much of our resources to its benefit and we may be on the verge of a modern day apocalypse because of the carbon we burn on its altar.

Two creative political pranksters from the US think that this system can and should be challenged….or at least mocked. Jealous of their not being at the 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bannano (or so they claim), a.k.a. The Yes Men decided to act in a slightly more creative, and frankly, hilarious way against those they detest.

Inspired by culture jamming tactics, the Yes Men practice what they call “Identity correction” and in their words, Impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else. They infiltrate high profile corporate meetings and pose as representatives of whatever evil corporation they choose to take on, be it Exxon-Mobile, The Dow Chemical Company or even the WTO itself.

Here are some of their hoaxes:

A representative from the WTO speaks about the financial and humanitarian benefits of a certain extinct work model:

An Exxon-Mobile expert announces the exciting development of Vivoleum: the fuel of the fuel-less future:

Halliburton proudly presents the state of the art solution for those corporate CEOS who wish to survive global warming catastrophes (and use it beat out the competition):

A joint effort between McDonalds and the WTO to recycle and feed the third world’s starving:

On the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, BBC interviewed Jude Finisterra, a man claiming to be a representative of the Dow Chemical Company, those who bought out the company responsible for the disaster.

As a result, Dow lost around 2 billion dollars in stock, and many a Bhopalian was devastated to find that it was a hoax after years of hope, but somewhat pleased that their egregious neglect received extraordinary coverage.

One of their most recent and logistically impressive culture jams was the printing of an entire fake New York Times edition, with around 1, 000,000 copies distributed during the hype after Obama was elected.

The Yes Men released two documentaries of their work: The Yes Men in 2003 and The Yes Men Fix the World which debuted in 2009. Here is a trailer of the latter, which includes a little bit about the ideas and the motives of the Yes Men:

Yonah Adelman