The Yes Men are progressive activists Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum who employ impersonation and other forms of invisible theatre to draw attention to divisive home and international issues.
After the success of the first two films about the eponymous pranksters, The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World, came the third instalment, The Yes Men Are Revolting, which chronicles their continued efforts to bring attention to irresponsible business practises and government indifference around the world. Since the Yes Men helped direct this film, just as they did Fix the World, audiences shouldn’t count on a dispassionate portrayal of the group’s political agenda and biases.
They don’t shy away from showing the group’s failures and internal tensions, which lead to some of the film’s most reflective moments in the form of genuine self-criticism and reflection on the ultimate viability of their methods to change the world for the better, but the documentary isn’t a self-aggrandizing paean to their own creativity and moral superiority, either.
One of Their Most Ingenious Political Stunts Opens the Film:
a group of activists in “survivaballs,” self-sufficient body suits apparently capable of withstanding any temperature, try to cross the East River to demonstrate before the United Nations. Although the police prevent them from doing so here and elsewhere in the film, the publicity they receive from the attempt helps them achieve their objectives by sparking a public discussion about climate change.
Their stunts, like the gonzo political humour of Sacha Baron Cohen, often succeed in spite of themselves, as they nevertheless manage to push their goal by being welcomed on television after being exposed as frauds.
Native American activist Gitz Crazyboy pulls off an even more impressive hoax by posing as a government official to trick security analysts and military officials into believing that the United States government is switching to renewable energy in a programme that will be managed solely by Native Americans at a Homeland Security conference.
To close the conference, the Yes Men have everyone don headdresses and dance in a circle to a song written by Drum Chief Four Feathers, who also claims to be his tribe’s war chief, fire chief, and midwife. It’s times like these that prove the Yes Men to be among the most gifted gonzo political satirists since Hunter S. Thompson’s heyday.
Since we learn that Mike and Andy aren’t their true identities but rather pseudonyms used to protect their private lives (and their companies) from undue risk, the documentary focuses more heavily on their personal sagas than their prior documentaries.
Impersonations of Corporate And Government
The film’s main meat is the duo’s superb impersonations of corporate and government agencies to promote their political activity, which in recent years has increasingly focused on climate change, but unfortunately, their banal family troubles and employment problems detract from this.
Their private lives are only mildly intriguing, but the similarities in their family trees make for fascinating psychological context for their actions. Both men acknowledge that growing up as the sons of Holocaust survivors may have made them more sceptical of institutions like corporations and governments, including their own.
In their work, the Yes Men have proven that not only can humour be an effective instrument for social and political change, but that it is essential. The Yes Men use the 24-hour news cycle and the philosophy of immediate news to advance their activism, in contrast to shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which criticise the media in order to make viewers more politically aware.
They illustrate how the maxim “everyone deserves 15 minutes of fame” popularised by Andy Warhol may be deployed for extreme political ends. Although this is encouraging, the video also briefly explores how their opponents employ the same strategies to advance their own objectives, especially when it comes to undermining scientific data on climate change.
Featuring the talents of Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Benadette Chandia Kodili, Gitz Crazyboy, Tito Ybarra, Mike Mathieu, and Leonid Vlassov. Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum, and Mike Bonanno are the directors. The Orchard is the distributor. Duration of Show: 91 minutes In short, an NR Year: 2013