Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Thought Styling" and "Thought Stylist" are Registered Trademarks of the Buck Burns Center for Temporary Issues

"Even if you’ve heard of the Yes Men, “high profile” might seem a stretch for a pair of media hackers with a healthy Internet following and a moderately successful documentary to their names (or their pseudonyms). But just moments into their new film, The Yes Men Fix the World (previewing at the Hammer on October 21), you are jolted into a different perspective — as Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum nervously prepares to go live on BBC television in front of 300 million viewers, posing as a representative of Dow Chemicals, to announce long-overdue reparations to the victims of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984. Within a couple hours, Dow’s stock value had plunged $2 billion.

Fix the World documents several more of the group’s two-pronged subterfuge — taking exploitative commodification to logical extremes, grisly (Vivoleum — a new energy source) or ridiculous (the Halliburton Survivaball, an inflatable disaster-survival suit resembling a bloated tick); or using their mistaken identities to demonstrate the concrete possibility that corporations can “Dow the right thing.” Which is, of course, an impossibility. No matter what the Supreme Court says, corporations are not people, and they don’t have consciences. Recent findings indicate that corporations are, in fact, a malevolent, parasitical, conceptual organism from a nearby star system, bent on the destruction of the human body, mind and spirit. The hapless primates that organize themselves into corporate enclaves are helpless pawns — if only corporations didn’t dangle such shiny things just out of our reach!

Beneath the hilarity and satirical incisiveness of the Yes Men’s antics lurks an awareness of this reality. Audience reaction shots focus on bored lackies breaking out in relieved, conspiratorial grins. By the time New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin responds to the Yes-Men-as-HUD with a rambling allegory about “a well-dressed lie chasing the naked truth,” it seems like everyone’s in on the gag — they just don’t know how to get out. The best art is always about dislocation, whether it’s a picture of a bison on the wall of a cave or an upside-down urinal rejected by an avowedly unjuried art show."

Read the rest of True Lies II: The Yes Men fix the world here.

The Yes Men Fix the World opens locally at the Laemmle Sunset 5 and Playhouse 7 on November 6

"Thought Styling" and "Thought Stylist" are Registered Trademarks of the Buck Burns Center for Temporary Issues

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