21 October, 2009 — Foreign Policy In Focus
Over the past 10 years, the Yes Men have emerged as an infamously daring and creative duo of anti-corporate pranksters. In their new movie, The Yes Men Fix the World, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (known in their non-activist lives as Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos) explain their methodology: ‘What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like,’ they say. ‘We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences.’
When they are invited, the Yes Men pose as spokespeople for companies such as Halliburton and Exxon, or bodies such as the World Trade Organization, and they give presentations that highlight the logic of corporate greed.
In one instance, on the 20th anniversary of the notorious chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, Bichlbaum appeared on the BBC as a representative of Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 calamity. He announced a $12 billion plan to provide medical care to the 120,000 victims of the disaster and to fully remediate the factory site. The company’s market value dropped $2 billion in 23 minutes before the hoax was discovered and Dow rushed to explain that it was still refusing to meet the victims’ demands for justice.
The Yes Men Fix the World opened in New York City on October 7 and begins showing in cities around the country on October 23. Shortly after the start of the New York run, the perpetually mischievous Bichlbaum spoke with Foreign Policy In Focus senior analyst Mark Engler.
MARK ENGLER: How have you felt about the reception of the film so far?
ANDY BICHLBAUM: Great. People have loved it. They’ve taken to the streets. Every day last week, they left the theater and stormed to a nearby destination. [Laughs.]