Documentary Review - The Yes Men are Revolting

Documentary Review - The Yes Men are Revolting


We all know. When it comes to climate change, there`s just an embarrassment of choice among all the different and serious issues that this situation brings along: whenever it occurs to global warming, draughts, greenhouses emissions, landscape exploitation, coal and carbon, words and wonderings are not missed for sure.

But what all modern communicators, environmentalists and scientists have been wondering the most in the last decade is: how can we communicate successfully the results of their research to people and engage them in the debate? In other words, how can we make people aware of the seriousness of the so called climate change phenomenon and how do we get them involved?

Directed and produced by the independent filmmaker Laura Nix and the Yes Men, also known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, The Yes Men are Revolting is a collage of the most epic and tragicomic adventures and episodes that these two activists experienced in their daily fight against corporate crimes and malpractices trying to communicate climate change to the general public.

What makes their activism particularly brilliant is without any question the way they choose to deliver their message: outrageous and hilarious hoaxes.

That`s right. Since Andy and Mike started taking care about general and public-matter issues and denunciating corporate crimes, they choose a very peculiar way to protest and fight for a better world: have a laugh about it.

Mocking themselves up as Spokesmen, Chairmen and key-big corporations personalities, they introduced themselves in official conferences, recorded short movies to send around fake press releases, took, in general, meaningful and inoffensive actions designed to get people at the heart of the problem without discouraging them from caring about an issue that for most of people could be – and there`s no shame about it – overwhelming.

Infiltrating themselves in big organisations and impersonating big corporations, they have been able to draw public attention on international problems and crimes against environment and humanity, putting pressure on these companies in a very extraordinary way, and, sometimes, even to take out of the environment-enemies their best qualities and most “human” sides.

To give just one effective example they managed to get representatives and spokesmen from carbon and fossil fuel related companies, to dance in a circle lead by an Indian-American businessman (an actor, of course) who after claiming all the exploitation they suffered because of the over growing needs of modern societies, got them to the point to break their formal and professional barriers and share their enthusiasm for a better and greener world. They all experienced a moving day and truly stated that they would have engaged themselves with renewables and more eco-friendly energy sources (a shame that this conference wasn`t a real one!).

This means that there`s still hope out there: people can, even those ones we would think cannot, when put in the right situation and under the right stimulation, do good and do better.

Earlier on during their activists careers, Andy impersonated a Dow Chemical spokesman and took full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster in 1984 in India putting on one hand the chemical giant in a very uncomfortable situation as they never apologized nor recognised their responsibility for the event, and, on the other hand, as their contacts in Bhopal said after the fake interview was released, helped raising awareness about the issue in India and Bhopal itself.

Watching their hoaxes I couldn`t help myself not to think how a wonderful world would this be if all the situations they set up were true…

Too good to be true?

Maybe. But what matters here is to keep on spreading the message out, and do it in creative, innovative, unexpected and engaging ways to get people aware and involved in what`s going on on our planet, the only one we have got, and to get them understand that something not only has to be, but CAN be done.

People want to know, understand and get involved, and a real difference can be done…even with a good laugh.

Giulia Danielis

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