The Yes Men Fix the World – Pranks with a Twist

I had earlier expressed my chagrin about how Union Carbide, Dow and the former chairman of Union Carbide Warren Anderson have made the Bhopal Gas Tragedy an absolute farce of capitalistic proportions. Imagine my surprise when I came across this rather interesting movie, “The Yes Men Fix the World” on HBO last night. The movie depicts how a team of two pranksters, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (real names Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos), calling themselves the “Yes Men” played elaborate pranks on some of the major greedy corporate giants of the world.

I had read about this movie being released and Dow and ExxonMobil slamming it a few days back, but I did not expect to catch it so soon on TV. Nevertheless it was worth a watch. Perhaps the most spectacular indictment was that of Dow. On the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy on 3rd December 2004, Andy posed as Jude Finisterra, a Dow Chemical spokesperson and went live on BBC World, claiming that Dow had decided to liquidate Union Carbide and hand off the $12b proceeds for medical care, site cleanup and funding research into the hazards of other Dow products.

Needless to say, Dow was swift and emphatic in denying that they had anyone by that name … but in the few hours between the broadcast and Dow’s reaction, shareholders dumped massive quantities of Dow stock and wiped out $2b of the company’s worth! Spectacular, indeed! Additionally Dow’s reaction gave the story even more coverage and shot the irony of Bhopal and the dynamics of Bhopal to public spotlight – somebody announced that Dow was doing the right thing and Dow’s stock plummeted, while Dow discredited the story, denied doing the right thing and saw its stock go up again!

Andy then appeared in another BBC interview on Dow after the story had been discredited and was quizzed repeatedly about toying with the sentiments of the Bhopal victims. Curiously the interviewer’s focus was not on the fact that Dow hadn’t done the right thing. The movie proceeds to show that Andy and Mike traveled to Bhopal, met with people and social activists there and tried to find out if they had caused the people more harm than good. As per the movie they did not (but I am guessing that they probably edited the uncharitable parts)

There are a lot of other pranks shown, like one about Exxon recycling the remains of victims of a toxic spill to make “Vivoleum” candles, high-level Halliburton executives agreeing to a SurvivaBall, “designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way”, pulling a fast one on New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and so on.

All in all, the movie is a fine watch. The really horrifying parts of it are the very insensitive remarks made by different people regarding different disasters, natural or man-made. People’s talking about how to take advantage of others’ suffering goes to show where the priorities of people lie. Go ahead and watch it if you can!

PS: I have been working so hard on my blog that I have stopped posting! I am currently working on the next release of Suffusion, something a lot more customizable. Keep watching!

One Response to “The Yes Men Fix the World – Pranks with a Twist”

  1. This is excellent! I am sharing this on facebook. Andy pulled off a great one! I will try to catch the movie soon.

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