Activists as Pranksters

The Yes Men (Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum)

The Yes Men (Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum)

Nearly twenty years into their serious hoaxster crusade for economic and environmental justice, activists (and “each other’s perfect enablers”) Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum have zeroed in on climate change, and the last five years of their sophisticated pranks are documented in “The Yes Men Are Revolting” (co-directed by Laura Nix).

“Revolting,” the best of their three films not only follows the frequent-flying Yes Men to their events and actions but also looks into their personal lives. Mike, raised in Troy, NY, by parents who taught their kids to question authority, moves to and back from Scotland and has an “environmentally unacceptable” third child. Andy, a son of survivors, visits home in Tucson, and loses a  boyfriend he really cares about by endlessly prioritizing work over his personal life. Both are now professors, Mike at RIT, Andy at the New School.

Andy and Mike supervise a group plunge into the East River (from the Queens side), activists inside Yes Men-designed “Survivorballs” (beige roly-polies with eyes and small apendages, bearing a strong resemblance to Baymax in “Big Hero 6”), and an unsuccessful attempt to bob across the water to the United Nations during a climate conference.

More effective, at the National Press Club in D.C., Andy (in a trademark thrift store ill-fitting suit) impersonates a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce (the largest lobbying group in the United States), presenting the Chamber’s position on carbon tax–thumbs up!–and  declaring, “Mother nature means business and we do too. Mass death is bad for business.”  The press conference makes TV news before the punk’d Chamber responds with horror, calling Andy a “fraud,” and denying support for the tax. The Chamber subsequently sues The Yes Men, a suit (ill-fitting, indeed) it eventually withdraws, rather than complying with the requirement of opening its files for research by Mike and Andy for their defense.

Posing as representatives of the Department of Energy, Mike and Andy join with Native Canadian activist, Gitz Crazyboy (who works  against the production tar sands oil), to stage a presentation at a Homeland Security Congress in D.C.  Hilarity ensues–the audience of defense contractors puts on paper headbands, forms a circle and dances and sings along with Gitz’s “Indian Song.”  Grumman execs express how much they enjoyed the event.

But while progress flows slower than oil, The Yes Men know that they can’t afford the luxury of disillusionment, and must continue screaming with their hair on fire to prevent global climate catastrophe.

To get involved:

“The Yes Men Are Revolting” will close the fifth edition of DOC NYC on Thursday, November 20 at 7:00 pm and will be released theatrically and digitally across North America in 2015.

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One Response to Activists as Pranksters

  1. Congratulations on 20 years of subversion. Keep it up.

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