Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Yes Men Fix The World

The outrageous antics of the Yes Men in HBO's The Yes Men Fix The World can leave the viewer in splits except when they pause to consider the message these two anti-corporate pranksters are trying to get across. There is nothing remotely funny about that. From doing right by the Bhopal tragedy victims, to getting the poorest Katrina victims back to their housing projects all the way to imagining a day where every news story is about having wrong set to right. Their methods are brazen, provocative not to mention incredibly creative. Even as you root for these guys wishing they can actually catalyze change, you are completely shocked at how easy it is for them to pull off their pranks.

When free marketeers run amok and greed gets to a point where otherwise rational people are no longer able to parse truth from farce, reality from pantomime the world becomes a dangerously unpredictable place to live in. In such a world, The Onion can become the most credible source of news, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart can become the most astute political commentators of the day - the Yes Men can get away with their over the top creations like Gildas, SurvivaBalls and more.

It is hard to decide what is sadder - that Dow Chemicals spends several millions in an ad campaign to damage control Jude Finisterra (Andy Bichlbaum) going on air "representing" them to say that the right will be done by the Bhopal victims even if twenty years too late or business leaders taking the absurd SurvivaBalls business seriously enough to inquire for how much one might sell, who the potential customers might be for the product.

The Yes Men, all their efforts notwithstanding, do not manage to fix the world. But they do rattle a lot of chains as they go about their business, give ordinary folks like us who don't believe they have the wherewithal to fix or change anything in their world a potent shot of hope. This has to be one of the most enjoyable films I have watched in a while.

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