At Sundance: The Yes Men Fix the World
I was lucky enough to attend yet another world premier this afternoon, and I think its safe to say that having made its debut, The Yes Men Fix the World is going to be a huge hit. Written and directed by “Yes Men” Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, this ballsy documentary not only received a standing ovation at the end, but had the audience breaking into applause and cheers of approval just about every ten minutes.
Yes Men follows vigilante con men Mike and Andy as they repeatedly fool the media, business people, and even government officials into believing they are representatives of massive money hungry corporations such as Halliburton and Dow which value capital over human lives. Simply by establishing fake yet convincing websites, allegedly belonging to these companies and listing themselves as high ranking officials, the Yes Men gain access to conferences and even grant interviews to major news outlets in which which they expose the skewed values of corporate America. Unlike the arrogant bitching, moaning and lying done by film makers such as, lets say Michael Moore, the Yes Men don’t just call for action–they act and they act radically.
While impersonating a Dow spokesperson the Yes Men revealed to CNN that Dow will be donating 12 billion dollars in compensation to the people of a city in India which they had lethally polluted twenty years ago. During the brief two hours during which the world was convinced that the statement was authentic, Dow lost over 2 billion dollars in stockholders. As speakers on behalf of the housing organization in New Orleans they promise to restore public housing throughout the city, illustrating how financially possible it would be for the city to do, before being exposed. As creators of faux business models and outrageous products like candles made from human flesh and software made to calculate profit versus human lives, the Yes Men capture the shockingly enthusiastic reactions of corporate convention goers to their offensive and sadistic business plans, exposing total lack of morality. These are some of the elaborate schemes that the Yes Men successfully pull off throughout the movie, baffling the viewer by both their audacity and the secret evils of giant corporations.
Both smart and entertaining, Yes Men is a refreshing take on an expose style documentary. Instead of relying on outlandish conspiracy theories, or attacking individuals on a personal level (once again alluding to Michael Moore), the Yes Men attack the policies which make corporate crimes possible, namely the deregulation of government control over business, and illustrate how it is the predominant cause of senseless suffering world wide. Their approach is most informative and proactive. Though Andy and Mike are the stars, and pepper the film with hilarious observations and general silliness, you don’t get a sense of their egos, but of their genuine longing for action and change. I predict that Yes Men will be one of the most influential and talked about documentaries in the coming year, going on to gain the cult like status of An Inconvenient Truth or Fahrenheit 911. I’m also confident, or at least hopeful, for the sake of political documentary fans that the Yes Men themselves will continue to entertain and inspire as the leading advocates of change through film.
Tags: Anastassia Smordinskaya