Connect with us

Blog

The Yes Men Fix Michael Moore: The Yes Men Fix The World

Fixing the world won’t happen from easy confrontation via bullhorn, but by sparking the collective public consciousness with substantive alternative ideas.

Published

on

The Yes Men Fix Michael Moore: The Yes Men Fix The World

After Michael Moore’s bland and predictable Capitalism: A Love Story, watching The Yes Men Fix The World is like inhaling a breath of fresh, unpolluted air. Starring the merry pranksters better known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, and co-directed by them alongside Kurt Engfehr (better known as Michael Moore’s editor on The Awful Truth, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11), the doc is a thrilling travelogue through the global free enterprise system. That our guides Bichlbaum and Bonnano happen to be both hilariously subversive and downright ingenious in their tactics (“What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like. We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences,” declares one of the Yes Men at the start) exposes not just corporate malfeasance but their colleague Moore’s own small-mindedness. While Moore with his one-dimensional thinking is content to point the finger, sit back and assign blame in lieu of doing the tough job of searching for workable solutions, the Yes Men—with their shock-and-awe, 3D-animated fake presentations—are proactive Robin Hoods. And, bouncing about in their “Halliburton SurvivaBall” suits, they’re a hell of a lot more entertaining.

Beginning with a montage of both their previous stunts and the media reactions to them, what quickly becomes apparent is how the Yes Men have harnessed the power of technology to uncover injustice in a way that the mainstream Moore hasn’t. In addition to the fake websites, their main weapons in the fight against an unethical economic system include sleek computer-generated projections and even pyrotechnics at corporate conferences. The razzle-and-dazzle effect that allows technology to obscure truth—corporate titans will swallow a SurvivaBall, an absurd inflatable suit at an absurdly inflated price, if it’s wrapped in slick packaging—is turned on its head by the Yes Men’s revealing that this emperor has no clothes (or balls for that matter).

With delightful wit, the Yes Men are saying, “Yes, we can!” to the making of a better world, doing what’s right on behalf of the corporations that do so much wrong. Instead of the Moore strategy of passively shaming, they actively participate in change, as when Bichlbaum, in the guise of a Dow Chemical spokesman, goes on the BBC in front of 300 million viewers to announce that the Bhopal catastrophe, the largest industrial accident in history, will finally be cleaned up by his employer. This simple act is a million times more radical and risk-taking than Moore’s noisily wielding a bullhorn in front of AIG headquarters. Moore may be responsible for the highest grossing documentary of all time, but not one of his films ever led to a two billion dollar drop in share prices in 23 minutes as this Yes Men stunt did! Where Moore is all bark and no bite, the Yes Men slyly bite. “I wouldn’t say it’s a hoax. It’s an honest representation of what Dow should be doing,” Bichlbaum responds when finally caught by the media. He then accurately goes on to accuse Dow of creating the real hoax in their claiming there’s nothing they can do for Bhopal while compensating lawsuit-happy Americans in Texas immediately after the accident!

And the Yes Men don’t stop there, digging ever deeper than Moore to actually investigate why it is that corporations can’t do the right thing without risking their bottom line—why the free market seems to work against good deeds. They interview the talking head acolytes of economic guru Milton Friedman, sometimes in strikingly silly ways. Asked what image he’d like to appear on the blue screen behind him, one guy clumsily suggests a picture of free men doing what their hearts’ desire—which leads to his pontificating in front of a Tom of Finland physique pictorial. They go down to New Orleans where Bichlbaum, posing as a HUD rep, announces a reopening of all public housing projects—and gets applause even from the contractors who stand to lose money! This is the opposite of Moore’s cynical, “folks are greedy” supposition. The Yes Men reveal that people do want to do the right thing—and will if they feel it’s sanctioned (just like they’ll buy a ridiculous, Python-esque SurvivaBall if everyone else is buying one). They expose the truth of the herd mentality, the fact that people feel safest in numbers and that fear is the real barrier to change. (This also knocks down Moore’s knee-jerk, evil plutocracy conspiracy theory in the process.) By the time the film ends with the distribution of the fake NY Times world-as-it-should-be edition, the Yes Men’s visionary thinking has come to fruition. Fixing the world won’t happen from easy confrontation via bullhorn, but by sparking the collective public consciousness with substantive alternative ideas.

Brooklyn-based writer Lauren Wissot is the publisher of the blog Beyond the Green Door, the author of the memoir Under My Master’s Wings, and a contributor to The Reeler.

Advertisement
Comments

Blog

Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

Published

on

The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

Continue Reading

Blog

Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

Published

on

Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

Continue Reading

Blog

Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

Published

on

Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Donate

Slant is reaching more readers than ever, but as online advertising continues to evolve, independently operated publications like ours have struggled to adapt. We're committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees—so if you like what we do, please consider becoming a Slant patron:

Patreon

You can also make a donation via PayPal.

Giveaways

Advertisement

Newsletter

Advertisement

Preview

Trending