Friday, 7 August 2009

[223] Released Today: The Yes Men Fix The World

Released today in the UK is The Yes Men Fix The World, a fun, provocative documentary that blends satire and outrageous feats of gumption.

I recently saw this flick, and have written a review of it for Screenjabber (to be posted imminently). While not perfect, I think this is an entertaining documentary - especially when seeing the Yes Men in action, with their wildly inventive, cutting stunt-activism. Here's a quote from my review:

How best to fix the world? The Yes Men, a duo of activist-pranksters, think they have the solution. Their bag is to pose as representatives from large industry bodies and, through the use of persuasive, authentic-looking websites and savvy, charming fast-talk, receive invitations to symposia, seminars, even television broadcasts. There, they turn the tables, often letting loose broadly absurdist lectures that attempt to confront the assembled men-in-suits with the harsh inhumanity of their cold, calculated business plans, issuing exaggerated powerpoint slideshows that introduce gleefully cock-eyed propositions, like using dead ex-employees as a fuel source.

The film is mostly concerned with their ongoing battle with Dow Chemical, who are associated with the 1984 Bhopal disaster (frequently referred to as the world worst industrial accident), and starts with what is their biggest stunt to date - with Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum appearing on BBC World News, posing as a Dow spokesperson, accepting responsibility on the tragedy's 20th anniversary, and announcing that the company's annual profits would be funnelled into a Bhopal clean-up fund. A true masterwork of kamikaze activism, this prank reportedly caused Dow's stock value to plummet by $2 billion.

As part of the film's promotion, the Yes Men came to London, and posed as publicity agents for a new brand of Mineral Water - B'eau Pal - stated to be taken from the chemical-leeched pumps. In fact, the stunt took place after the screening, and it was quite something to see these activists in the flesh - handing out the water to passers-by on Carnaby St. You can see a video of the event below (and see some pictures here).

B'eauPal Water - Bhopal Water Prank

The film is currently being exhibited at the Odeon Panton St, in London. Next week, August 11th, there will be a simultaneous broadcast of the film, with cinemas from all over the UK participating, to be followed by a Q&A with the duo. Following this, The Yes Men Fix The World will tour the country. Check the official site for more information.

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