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USA 2003
Directed by
Dan Ollman, Sarah Price and Chris Smith
80 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Yes Men

The Yes Men are pair of pranksters, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, who, in a new millennial version of 1960s counter-culturalism, attempt to awaken corporate dorks to their own stupidity by serving them up a hyperbolic dose of their own self-serving propaganda. The sadness of all this is that, as their presentation to an auditorium of suited managers in Finland on a WTO-developed "remote labor system" shows, these people have lost all ability to respond to anything but their bosses' feedline. Multiply this innumerable times across the economic and political spectrum of the developed and developing countries and the answer as to what hope there is for self-generated change is apparent.

Is there hope in Gen Z?  Make that Gen Zzzzzzzzz. When the pair do a combined presentation to an American college pretending to feed recycled human faeces to Third World countries in the form of MacDonalds' burgers, the response is slightly more animated, but not much more. Ahh!!! for the days when students threw chairs rather than balloons. You'll be glad to hear that when Bonanno and Bichlbaum came to Australia in 2002 we did not show ourselves to be so devoid of humanity, albeit that the hoax presented to a group of chartered accountants was predisposed to generate a more positive response.

Stylistically The Yes Men is a matter-of-fact record of the activities of our two ludic dudes and in itself not visually compelling although that is entirely in keeping with the team's subversive activist philosophy (one of the directors, Chris Smith made American Movie (2000). by which I was seriously underwhelmed, although some swear by it). Where it is of value and even manages to generate edge-of-the-seat tension is in showing how Bonanno and Bichlbaum can push their hoax to such extremes with complete acceptance on the part of their yea-saying audiences. Clearly when the language of choice is falsehood no-one can speak the truth. Such are yes-(wo)men. What I kept asking myself is legally, how could these guys get away with passing themselves off as representatives of the WTO? For whatever reason they do and one can only wish that we had as bold and inventive counter-culturalists here in Australia.




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