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The Yes Men

  • Film

Time Out says

The Yes Men are Andy and Mike, two American pranksters who achieved notoriety late last year when they duped the BBC World Service into running a news story which reported that Union Carbide – the American chemical company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak disaster in India in 1984 – were prepared to shell out compensation to thousands of victims on the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy. Funny on paper, perhaps; not so funny for those Indians who, for several hours, believed that 20 years of mistreatment and suffering were coming to an end. Full marks to the Yes Men for successful media manipulation, but to what end? For whose benefit was all this exactly?

Chris Smith’s slight but mildly diverting documentary elicits a similar response. After a brief history of the Yes Men’s pranks (they devised a fake George W Bush website and followed it with another site that claimed to represent the World Trade Organisation), we follow them to a poorly attended business conference in Tampere, Finland’s second city, where the pair are posing as representatives of the WTO. They make a nonsensical speech and reveal a gold lamé ‘Management Leisure Suit’ which they suggest to the audience would be a good addition to corporate culture. The Finns hardly bat an eyelid. Later on, they travel to a similar conference in Australia – again posing as WTO stooges – and deliver a racist speech about the international labour force. This time, some people do react angrily.

What does all this say? People at conferences are a bit bored and don’t listen to the speakers properly? Some people react to racism and some don’t? Lots of people are gullible? It’s easy to con Finnish conference organisers? At least on the evidence of Smith’s thin film, these guys are all stunt and no message. This is nothing more than Ali G for the anti-globalisation movement.
Written by DC

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 18 February 2005
  • Duration:80 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Chris Smith, Sarah Price, Dan Ollman
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