The new movie 'The Yes Men Fix the World,' opening in Toronto on January 29, follows the zany antics of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two American anti-globalization activists who pose as spokespeople for giant corporations and even big government agencies. Most recently, they issued a fake statement on behalf of Environment Canada to draw attention to Canada's embarrassing track record when it comes to addressing climate change. (Unfortunately this particular hoax isn't in the movie, since it happened in December.)

The movie opens with Bichlbaum (if that's his real name) nervously preparing for his appearance on BBC World TV, where he is posing as a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. The BBC found Bichlbaum through the fake Dow Ethics website the Yes Men had set up. The site addressed Dow's role in cleaning up the aftermath of the Union Carbide industrial accident (Dow acquired Union Carbide in 2001) that devastated the people of Bhopal, India 20 years ago. Once on air, Bichlbaum, in character as a spokesperson, announces that Dow is prepared to liquidate Union Carbide and spend $12 billion on helping the victims of the Bhopal catastrophe. Taking things a step further, he apologizes on behalf of Dow for taking so long to take action. The new movie 'The Yes Men Fix the World,' opening in Toronto on January 29, follows the zany antics of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two American anti-globalization activists who pose as spokespeople for giant corporations and even big government agencies. Most recently, they issued a fake statement on behalf of Environment Canada to draw attention to Canada's embarrassing track record when it comes to addressing climate change. (Unfortunately this particular hoax isn't in the movie, since it happened in December.)

The movie opens with Bichlbaum (if that's his real name) nervously preparing for his appearance on BBC World TV, where he is posing as a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. The BBC found Bichlbaum through the fake Dow Ethics website the Yes Men had set up. The site addressed Dow's role in cleaning up the aftermath of the Union Carbide industrial accident (Dow acquired Union Carbide in 2001) that devastated the people of Bhopal, India 20 years ago. Once on air, Bichlbaum, in character as a spokesperson, announces that Dow is prepared to liquidate Union Carbide and spend $12 billion on helping the victims of the Bhopal catastrophe. Taking things a step further, he apologizes on behalf of Dow for taking so long to take action.

Obviously, Dow was pissed. Shareholders, believing the announcement was legit, furiously began selling their Dow stock and the company's value dipped $2 billion in one day. The Yes Men's hoax made headlines around the world, helping them achieve their goal of drawing attention to Dow's inaction in Bhopal.

Subsequent projects, while on a much smaller scale than the BBC hoax, are equally amusing and thought-provoking. The Yes Men even make it out to Calgary to address attendees at an oil-related conference, where they distribute candles designed to smell like burning human flesh when lit. The organizers of the Calgary event figure out pretty quickly that the activists aren't from Exxon, and use force to remove them from the Stampede Park venue. How embarrassing!

The Yes Men don't just pose as execs and bureaucrats -- sometimes they mimic large news organizations, too. After Barack Obama was elected, the Yes Men collective (there are hundreds of them, not just Bichlbaum and Bonanno) printed 100,000 copies of a fake New York Times newspaper with good news headlines, like "Iraq War Ends," and "National Health Insurance Act Passes."

The Yes Men prove that you don't have to be a boring, self-righteous neo-hippie to draw attention to global injustices. Their outrageous stunts are fun to watch, and draw attention to important issues at the same time. Ingenious! Here's hoping they'll crash the next boring conference I have to sit through.
CATEGORIES Film Fancy