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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Yes Men Fix the World

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD (2009)

Featuring Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.

Written by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.

Directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr.

Distributed by Shadow Distribution.  96 minutes.  Not Rated.

 

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The Yes Men Fix the World

In the modern world, comedy and politics are more and more often married.  Everything from Jon Stewart to Bill Maher, Michael Moore to Stephen Colbert - even in their own ways commentators like Keith Olbermann and Rush Limbaugh use comedy to get their points across. 

The Yes Men are sort of the merry practical jokers of the political world, and yet they take their place in the political discourse very seriously. 

Sort of like what would happen if Borat and Michael Moore hosted a very special corporate episode of Punk'd, The Yes Man Fix The World uses practical jokes and elaborate hoaxes to try to heap shame some of the largest corporations in the world.

Unfortunately, as should be all too obvious from the state of today's world, for the most part the largest corporations in the world have absolutely no sense of shame.

The Yes Men are a group of activists led by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno – two normal looking guys in cheap suits trying in their own way to subvert... or at least expose... the corporate structure from the inside.  They had released a film called simply The Yes Men in 2003 in which they created mayhem by pretending to be representatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and straight-facedly suggesting and demonstrating a series of totally outrageous and inhumane "developments" in corporate-speak.  They gave these speeches to real businessmen and students… and by and large the audiences did not realize that they were the butts of a joke.

In The Yes Men Fix the World, they broaden their scope – taking on such multi-national corporations as Halliburton and Dow Chemical as well as the governmental Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Their modus operandi is rather simple.  The Yes Men create elaborate "spoof" websites of a corporation – one that looks just like an official site but has sly and outrageous information that the companies would not necessarily want public.  If the site is approached for speaking engagements, etc., the Yes Men will agree and appear as a member of the corporation.  Once there, they tout ridiculous and horrific products such as petroleum candles made of human flesh or "The SurvivaBall" a giant ball costume that is supposed to protect Americans from potential terrorism.

The amazing thing is that most of the people who see them are so numbed by corporate speak that they actually take the absurd notions with the utmost seriousness, asking sincere questions about feasibility and cost structure.

In one instance – shown here – for a short time the Yes Men did cause quite a stir.  The Yes Men were invited, as spokesmen for Dow Chemical, to appear on a BBC News show.  While there, the "Dow rep" took full responsibility for a tragic 1984 chemical spill in Bhopal, India by Union Carbide, a company which Dow had since taken over.  Despite thousands of deaths and years of local devastation, Union Carbide had never paid a penny in restitution. 

Therefore, when the Dow Rep said on the BBC that the company was going to spend $12 billion dollars to help clean up the area it was huge news – and made Dow’s stocks plunge by $2 billion dollars in just two hours.  Amazing that cleaning up after their mistake would be considered bad business. 

Even the Yes Men acknowledge that while they can cause a bit of a ruckus, their stunts never seem to bring about real change.  While in the short term it is very amusing to see the corporate suits expose themselves for the greedy, heartless charlatans that they are, eventually the stunts feel a bit quixotic.  Exposing the wrongdoers is only part of the process.  It would be nice to see this exposure affecting real change of some sort… and here it almost never does.

That is not the fault of Bichlbaum and Bonanno – they are certainly doing what they can – but it eventually makes the stunts seem like amusing failures.

The Yes Men Fix the World is both an extremely amusing and at the same time kind of frustrating viewing experience.  In a perfect world – in a fixed world – it would just be the first step.  It is nice that these people are being brought to light, but who is going to actually punish them?

Sadly, the Yes Men can't actually fix the world.  However, thank goodness there are still people like them who care enough to actually try.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 30, 2009.

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Copyright ©2009   PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 30, 2009.

 

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