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Re: Yes men prank today?

Released on 2012-02-27 09:00 GMT

Email-ID 387524
Date 2010-02-19 21:47:10
Ok, just thought I heard something. Never mind.

Sent from my iPhone
On Feb 19, 2010, at 2:40 PM, Kathleen Morson wrote:

they appear to be in sante fe for a benefit on their movie this monday.

there's a sante fe reporter article about them that lists little actions
that people can take in the sante fe area -- one of them is for the
independent petroleum association of mountain states and to register for
a "washington call in" event IPAMS is doing.

Target: The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, a
trade association that represents 400 a**independent oil and natural gas
producersa** including Shell, BP and Halliburton

The problem: IPAMS claims to be dedicated to a**building a sustainable
energy future,a** but it lobbies against alternative energy and devotes
the bulk of its advocacy to ensuring the continued primacy of fossil

The prank: Register for the IPAMS a**Washington call up." Bring 10
friends and perform a musical theater piece in the middle of the keynote
speech. RSVP for the briefing by emailing Becca Ness or calling
303-623-0987. Be sure to use a good pseudonym!



By: Zane Fischer 02/17/2010

As a 14-year-old fan of both Jimmy Carter and George Orwell, 1984 was a
tough year for me.

I was convinced Ronald Reagan would find a way to ensure an Orwellian
dystopia and that a dark future was at hand.

It turns out I was right.

But the plot proved to be a lot bigger than Ronald Reagan, and Big
Brother manifested more as a corporate medusa than a monolithic

If Ia**d known what to look for, the signs were sitting right in front
of the sleepy rural town in which I grew up.

On Dec. 3, 1984, 32 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked out of
a Union Carbide Corporation plant in Bhopal, India. Death toll numbers
vary depending on the source, but between 4,000 and 18,000 people were
dead within two weeks.

Meanwhile, just a few miles west of my home in Bishop, Calif., and
upriver from the sweet little stream that trickled past my house, Union
Carbide was running the largest tungsten mine in the United States. In
my town, Union Carbide was a source of good jobs and local benevolence.
Union Carbide guys were heroes.

I can remember my mother explaining to me that big companies werena**t
always as responsible as they should be and would sometimes cut corners
and take advantage of the poverty in other countries, but that the
neighbor who worked at the mine wasna**t necessarily a bad person.

As the years wore on, people continued to die by the thousands in
Bhopal. Union Carbide claimed it was not responsible and it abandoned
the Bhopal plant, leaving behind another 390 tons of toxic chemicals
that continue to leak into the groundwater to this day. The disaster
there is now frequently cited as the worst industrial disaster in

Twenty years after the Bhopal leak, on Dec. 3, 2004, a spokesman for Dow
Chemical Company, which had purchased Union Carbide in 1999, announced
on BBC World News that the company would pay reparations to the people
of Bhopal and foot the bill for a comprehensive cleanup.

In a little more than 20 minutes, the value of Dow stock dropped by $2
billion. The spokesman was a hero.

But he didna**t work for Dow. He was Andy Bichlbaum. He was a Yes Man.

The Yes Men, an activist organization that uses parody and
satire to bring attention to government and corporate misdeeds, came to
prominence when they participated in the faux World Trade Organization
website,, which was launched in tandem with the protest-riddled
1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, Wash.

Bichlbaum and fellow Yes Man Mike Bonanno have spent the 10 years since
engaged in increasingly elaborate and far-reaching activist stunts.

In 2000, the group spoofed President George W Busha**s election website,
prompting Bush to say, famously, a**there ought to be limits to

Among its many pranks striking at the core of social and economic
issues, the Yes Men, in corporate or spokesman guise, have proposed that
McDonalda**s include 20 percent post consumer waste in its hamburgers,
announced that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development would
do right by impoverished citizens left homeless by Hurricane Katrina and
suggested that Africa could be better managed through the use of

More recently, the Yes Men held a press conference in which they
announced the US Chamber of Commercea**s newfound support for
alternative energy and pretended to be representatives of the Canadian
government at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

As a result of Yes Men actions and film projects, thousands of articles
have been written about otherwise-ignored issues. They have become the
de facto publicity and propaganda arm of social-justice activism and,
this week, theya**re on the loose in Santa Fe. SFR spoke to Bichlbaum
about life as a Yes Man, and asked the group to provide some
hypothetical a**actionsa** for some usual New Mexico suspects.


SFR: An article in Mother Jones recently argued that Yes Men high jinks
have degenerated to the level of mere entertainment, that it has become
difficult to parse your attacks on corporations like Dow Chemical and
Halliburton from the social or celebrity antics of Borat or Ashton
AB: Really? I havena**t seen that. But, you know, wea**re just trying to
get an important message out through the means that are available to us,
the avenues that we are good at. We are doing what we can to publicize
and drum up enthusiasm and engagement surrounding issues that we and a
great many other people consider to be important. Certainly we use
humor. And certainly entertainment can be about making people laugh, but
also about something greater. Borat, for example, makes some points
beyond simple jokes; therea**s a kind of a thesis in there. But the Yes
Men are activists who are using comedy and Ia**m not sure therea**s a
direct comparison to comedians who may have some activist element or
some amount of social agenda that appears in their routines.

Is humor an effective way of cutting to the heart of our most pressing
social, economic and political issues?
Laughter is a simple tool that gets publicity and that results in
articles being written and in the development of a broad audience. If
what youa**re doing isna**t funnya**and I suppose you could correlate
that to entertainment valuea**then your audience is likely to be a lot
smaller. But ita**s possible that ridiculing those who are in fact
ridiculous or whose ideas and actions are somewhat ridiculous can
translate to some popular and progressive power. Some believe that humor
is a potent political weapon; humor may have kneecapped Sarah Palina**s
run for vice president or it may have toppled the Soviet Union. I
dona**t know if I believe that exactly, but humor certainly is a
powerful component of human belief and experience.

If the Yes Men differ so significantly from comedians, what about
self-declared activists with a different agenda, like James Oa**Keefe
and Robert Flanagan and others involved in the controversial ACORN
videos and the attempt to infiltrate US Sen. Mary Landrieua**s office?
Oh, those guys are rank amateurs. I mean, going in and messing with a
senatora**s phone lines and not even bothering to make fake ID? Ita**s
just unbelievably stupid. Ita**s also not at all like what we do. They
seem to be about hurting people who are in a position of weakness or
hurting people who are trying to help people who are in a position of
weakness. Wea**re more interested in stopping and exposing people who
are hurting others. I mean, I dona**t actually understand the motivation
for those guys: How can you put so much energy into hurting people? I
know theya**re using the, uh, a**fair and balanceda** argument, but that
doesna**t play with what amounts to a fraudulent sting-style operation
perpetrated under false pretenses. Again, what we do is something a
little different.

But waita*|when you posed as a US Chamber of Commerce representative,
you didna**t have any business cards when questioned. Why not?
Good point. I guess my only defense is that we were engaging in
political theater. We werena**t up to something definitively illegal. We
were not trying to do something that we knew could land us in jail.
Therea**s performance and therea**s amoral, illegal behavior, and I
think the difference is perceptible.

Do you think that Yes Men actions have been effective?
Well, it gets media attention for sure. And, as I said, I think if that
attention relates to a larger, cohesive campaign then, yes, it can be
very effective.

Whata**s an example of relating to a broader strategy?
Our sort of multifaceted attacks on Dow Chemical related to the Bhopal
disaster were highly coordinated with groups that are dedicated to
helping the victims in Bhopal or raising awareness about the incident.
At the Copenhagen climate conference we worked with the Climate Debt
Agents. We sort of drum up attention for causes that many other people
and groups are already working on. Everything we do comes down to
pointing out when economic policies place the rights of capital before
the needs of people and the environment. Thata**s the key problem that
wea**re always driving at and we can usually frame our actions within
the context of other organizations that are dedicated to some aspect of
that fight.

Is corporatocracy the primary problem facing the US today?
I think I can agree with that. Yes, yes it is.

Is there an official Yes Men response to the US Supreme Courta**s recent
assertion that the rights of corporations extend to unlimited campaign
Just the obvious: Ita**s horrifying. Ita**s exactly the wrong direction
to go in and, as a nation, wea**d better not let it stick. Ita**s so
totally bad. The only way to ever see progressive legislation would be
to end corporate lobbyinga**perioda**and this ruling, of course, goes in
exactly the opposite direction.

In some opposition to the usual position of the more conservative
justices, that ruling appears to attack statesa** rights, as a great
many states have laws governing corporate contributions. Do you think
states will become the front line on this battle?
I guess Ia**m not up enough on that as I should be. I dona**t really
know what role the states will play.

Your presentation in Santa Fe serves as a benefit for the Santa Fe Art
Institute. Are the Yes Men artists?
I dona**t know. I guess it depends on who is asking. Or who is being
asked. Ora*|I dona**t really think of it that way, I dona**t wonder
about how to define what we do; I just think of it as doing something.

Why are so few of us doing something?
I dona**t know that either. Ita**s a good question. Maybe most of us
dona**t realize how fun it is to start doing something. Trying to make
things better may not sound like a good time but, I promise, there can a
lot of fun in it.

Are you able to hint at any new targets on the horizon or do you have to
feign innocence?
Well, the list of potential targets is, regrettably, almost endless. But
right now, I feel like wea**ve just finish