The Yes Men Fix the World

Annika Lindburg, Staff Writer and Online Coordinator

To kick-off Earth Week, the Linfield Office of Sustainability showed the film “The Yes Men Fix the World” in ICE auditorium. The film was sued by the United States Commerce so the movie is distributed under the radar companies.

“The Yes Men Fix the World” consists of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno who both use ruses to exploit corporations who have done wrong.

The opening scene sets the tone for the film: a shot of Andy and Mike swimming with suits on while Judy Garlands’ “Get Happy” plays. It is a comical opening that sets the tone for the film.

One hijink was Andy pretending to be a DOW representative where they brought out a gold skeleton to bankers and asked them “how do they calculate the worth of a human’s lives?”

While the movie had funny moments intertwined between their hijinks, some of their ruses raised some questions.

Andy went on the BBC World as a DOW chemical spokesperson. It was on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, which was a gas leak in India and considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. Andy claimed that DOW was taking full responsibility for the disaster and wanted to use $12 billion to help right their wrongs. The BBC and other news organizations bought the hoax until DOW released a statement denying the announcement and subsequently, DOW’s stock lost $2 billion in 23 minutes.

I felt worse for the BBC who booked Andy, thinking he was a real person from DOW. I also felt bad for the people of Bhopal who believed this change of heart for a few hours. The Yes Men Fix the World” went to Bhopal to ask how the fake news story affected them, and surprisingly, most said they weren’t angry and were glad that the story had raised more awareness for their hardships.

Another hoax involved New Orleans and homes that were damaged from Hurricane Katrina. Andy claimed that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would not close public housing homes that had been closed since 2005. After getting caught, the scheme went further with the Yes Men reopening one of the homes. It brought media attention, and people into thinking they were getting their home back. Once again, I was surprised by the reactions of the civilians, who were grateful for any media attention that brought awareness to their cause. The media, on the other hand, was not a fan of the deception and called it “a cruel hoax.”

I wondered how the Yes Men could keep doing these pranks without getting caught. They weren’t wearing masks or prosthetics and had a camera crew with them wherever they went. As the media picked up on them, wouldn’t others?

The least harmful prank was the final one of the movie. The Yes Men and other people created a fake New York Times newspaper which they handed out around Manhattan. It looked identical to a real New York Times paper, the only difference was that each article and headline was about hopeful and optimistic headlines. Individuals who received the free paper read some of the headlines and then had a huge smile on their face as they realized that it couldn’t be real. This was a harmless prank that let people live in a too good to be true world.

I applaud the Yes Men for what they are trying to do, but felt like some of their pranks went too far. While it is important to exploit big companies, it is also important to realize how this is affecting individuals.