The Yes Men: Annual Report!

29 December 2015 — Yes Lab

Greetings, friends and spies! 

We can’t afford to send you all fruitcakes. But we do have a small gift – a few fun tales from this past year. At the end of this email, we’ll also let you in on a few little secrets about the next one.

And oh, by the way–all of our work depends on donations from people like you. If anything in here tickles your fancy, please consider sending an end-of-year gift to us at the Yes Lab.

Ok, here we go:


In 2015 we…

… released a new movie! 
The critics loved our third feature film, The Yes Men Are Revolting. Looking ahead to 2016, we still have a DVD to release and we’re hoping it gets widely televised around the world.  Unlike our last two films, we don’t already have deals in France or the UK, so please do tell if you have any ideas. Note to aspiring filmmakers: fooling the BBC in a prior film could make it hard to ever get on the telly again in that territory! Luckily, we’re troublemakers, not filmmakers, and it is pretty hard to get blacklisted from mischief. 

… got into trouble releasing a new movie!
A bunch of odd shenanigans transpired while we toured with the film. Like when we were ejected from the lavish “Cinema for Peace” gala in Berlin – for bringing a polar bear and hijacking the microphone (video here).  Or when when we found ourselves in New York, dressed as Shell representatives, offering residents their first taste of the last frontier: snow cones made from the Arctic’s last icebergs (video here). 

… single-handedly defeated Shell’s diabolical plans to drill the Arctic! 
Okay, maybe it wasn’t just us, but after sustained actions from thousands of activists and organizations like Greenpeace, Shell withdrew from the Arctic. It may not have been our victory alone, but they did send out their withdrawal announcement just when Andy was returning from a secret project to foil them in Greenland. Coincidence? 

… pardoned Ed Snowden! 
When we were asked to interview the exiled Edward Snowden at Politicon in Los Angeles, we decided to take it a step further, and have him make a live appearance. The crowd went nuts when they thought Snowden was there – giving us a chance to see the joy many Americans will feel when Obama really does pardon him (it’s up to you to help make that happen!). We had a great time working with Snowden, and we expect more to come.  

… haunted the US Army!
On All Hallow’s Eve, we dressed as spooky ghosts and invaded downtown Frederick, MD to spread the truly terrifying story about how the U.S. military disposed of chemical and biological weapons in a bunch of local neighborhoods, causing a slew of rare cancers. A video about the action is slated to be on a new MSNBC program this winter – and we expect to be back there with more ghosts next year… and every year thereafter until the military admits what happened, compensates victims, and cleans up their act. 

… skipped showers for beef! 
Our wackiest project to date was about a very serious way to address the California drought by changing the way we do agriculture. When we discovered that factory-farmed beef uses up an astonishing 1800 gallons of water per pound—half of California’s annual water use—we knew we needed a radical solution. Working with the brilliant, twisted folks at Funny or Die, we came up with a “beef industry campaign” encouraging people to offset each quarter-pound hamburger by skipping 55 showers. Very few folks ever realized it was a fake; it’s come to that. (video here)

… eulogized the World Economic Forum! 
When we were asked to participate in the last ever “public eye on Davos” WEF counter-summit, we conducted a funeral for that pompous body. And the WEF really is dead, at least intellectually – the world’s problems are not going to be solved by bringing the world’s richest people (plus Bono) into a fortified ski resort high in the Alps. The WEF may well meet again this year—but that’ll just be reanimating the corpse.

… trained new recruits and gave motivational speeches! 
This past year we also launched a new distance-learning workshop for creative activism to incubate new projects. The first class cooked up several interesting capers, all of which are still underway. We also did workshops and presentations at 51 conferences, schools, and social centers around the world! We’re confident that these events spark more mischief after we leave… and sometimes we get put up to something on the spot, like the impromptu speech we gave as Shell at Seattle’s Earth Day celebrations, or the time we found ourselves suddenly representing consultants for the Regents of the University of Iowa. One more highlight from this year’s trainings: our residency at Bogazici University in Istanbul. 

In 2016 we will…  

… kick more butt!
We have a very busy year ahead. We are still releasing the new film, and plan to be on the road quite a bit with that. We may do a television show—more on that later. We might also dig a bunch of really funny stuff out of the archive and release it, if we can dig up a bit of money for an editor. We have a few crazy secret projects in the works. But if we tell you about them, they won’t be secret, right? 

…stop eating meat! 
Yes, We’re doing that too. We realized that some young people look up to us (ha ha!) so it’s time to be role models. And also in the meat department, we have this awesome thing called the Action Switchboard, our perverted Zuckerbergian attempt at getting billions of the world’s denizens involved in direct action mischief in the name of social causes. But so far there are barriers that have prevented billions from populating it with awesome ideas…  so we’re retooling for the new year by incorporating it into our distance-learning program and workshops. 

…get arrested! 
One big part of what we do now that we’ve got a bit of notoriety is get out there and inspire the youth (and sometimes the elderly) with speeches and workshops. We’re more available than ever for this kind of thing, especially since Andy’s faculty appointment (and thus paychecks) from NYU ended last summer. If you have ideas on who we should talk to and where we should speak (and on where Andy might get a new job), please give us a holler. Oh, and about those arrests—for one thing, we’re planning to join some indigenous activists in Minnesota who are planning some things along proposed routes of some post-Keystone pipelines. We’ve also joined with thousands to take a pledge of resistance for democracy next April, and you should too! So expect some news of direct action in the coming year—and we hope you can join us for the fun.

Thanks again for your support. We hope that we can do even more together in 2016!  With your help, we most certainly can!

Much love, 

Mike and Andy 
The Yes Men 

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