1.01.2011

what i'm watching: must-see movie: the yes men fix the world

Have you all seen this movie? It's out on DVD, and it's a must: anti-capitalist, activist humour. It's a kind of companion video to Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, humour edition.

Check out the website and the trailer.

6 comments:

allan said...

This was entertaining enough, but I was left wondering what good their work actually does.

Going on the BBC and being responsible for the loss of $2 billion in the value of Dow's stock is amazing and the New Orleans stunt may help people save their homes, but beyond those, their stuff seems more entertaining for a viewer at home than anything that would have an actual impact.

At the presentations, the listeners seem half-asleep, indifferent or maybe slightly bemused. I did not get the impression that the YM had made any impact on these corporate people or get them to seriously consider the damage they are doing. (In fact, the some of the YM's messages seem to not register as odd or satirical at all.)

(Also, I would have liked some commentary about how they write their presentations.)

laura k said...

This was entertaining enough, but I was left wondering what good their work actually does.

This surprises me, unless you're going to be completely cynical and question the value of any and all activism.

On the 20th anniversary of the Bopaul disaster, how many people knew that the Union Carbide and Dow had never taken responsibility or adequately compensated the victims? How many people even knew the victims were still suffering?

After 20 million people viewed the BBC broadcast, then learned that it was a hoax, how many people knew then?

Like all activism, the Yes Men's work raises awareness. Specifically, they challenge people to question basic assumptions about the positive nature of capitalism and globalization. And their methods reach millions of people who would be unreached through more preaching-to-converted activist methods.

laura k said...

I did not get the impression that the YM had made any impact on these corporate people or get them to seriously consider the damage they are doing.

I don't think that's their aim. However, we have no idea how anyone attending those presentations was affected. How do we know - based on what you see in that movie - what may cause people to question what they're doing? Perhaps some people already have discomfort and guilt over their roles, and this adds to it.

But I don't think the YM's goals are for corporate conference attendees to suddenly "see the light" and have a change of heart. That would be an absurd expectation. Certainly if one expected that, their work would be a failure.

Which is like saying if one peace march doesn't end the war, the march was a failure and the peace movement is a failure.

laura k said...

(In fact, the some of the YM's messages seem to not register as odd or satirical at all.)

I think that's part of the point, too - the level of wankery going on, the absurd premises people are willing to accept, unchallenged.

However, there were many indications that people at those conferences thought the presentations were quite strange.

allan said...

On the 20th anniversary of the Bopaul disaster

I called the BBC stunt "amazing". Besides the effect on Dow's $ and raising awareness of the company's on-going crimes, it also showed, better than any other piece, the YM's nervousness and the general atmosphere of the stunt. That one still strikes me as gutsy and risky, but a lot of the others were much less memorable. (Maybe because the conference talks were a lot alike.)

How do we know - based on what you see in that movie - what may cause people to question what they're doing?

We don't, but I thought there was very little in any of their presentations to make people consider the evils of their corporations. Being that direct in a conference would have got them shut down very quickly and rendered the stunt fairly useless.

I think that's part of the point, too - the level of wankery going on, the absurd premises people are willing to accept, unchallenged.

Again, that seems to be solely for our benefit, since we already know a joke is being played. If everything the YM say at a conference is being accepted or unchallenged, where is the benefit, except to someone watching a film of it?

In some way, this -- and the hidden camera cafeteria conversations -- seem like the stuff we hated in Bill Maher's Religulous, where he has people speak their minds so at home we can shake our heads and laugh at them.

However, there were many indications that people at those conferences thought the presentations were quite strange.

More bemused, like I first said, as opposed to horrified or somehow illuminated.

laura k said...

I'll have to let someone else take it from here. Your cynicism discourages and depresses me too much to respond.