Posted by: Waern | July 21, 2009

The Yes Men – are they Serious?

The activist / artist group “The Yes Men” is an excellent example of how reality fiction can be turned into powerful political activism. They develop fake identities for big companies, in order to expose their less than humane company policies and what the yes men see as their crimes. Their main tecniques are developing prank websites and impersonating powerful spokespeople of the companies. In a recent prank, they impersonated ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives at a huge Canadian oil event Go-EXPO, highlighting the oil industry’s central role in global warming. (They were fined, of course.)

From a social expansion perspective, the yes men are using every trick in the book to get people involved in their actions in an unaware state. An example was when they created a fake official statement from Dow that the company would clean up the site of the Bhopal catastrophy, a statement that reached its full pontential when Dow had to publicly deny it. The unaware bystander in this game was the people of Bhopal, who might actually have believed that they were finally getting help. (Most likely, they still found the publicity worth the scam.)

Their most recent initiative is beyondtalk.net, where they try to get more people involved in actions against global warming. You can sign up to participate in public civil disobedience (legal or not), or donate money for fines and bailouts. The activities are planned be staged in relation to the U.N. hosted climate conference to be held in Copenhagen in December this year.

But is it serious? The look and feel of the site is more of an alternate reality game than of an activist site, and the activities are more likely to use the Yes Men’s strategies of role-play and satire than those of the black block. This could become the worlds first really serious pervasive role-playing game, with serious consequences for participants, bystanders and the whole world.

Hm, Copenhagen is not far from Stockholm…


Responses

  1. The Yes Men are, in my mind, a cross between Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen. The only difference is that they are not out to change the world mainly through films, but to change the world through all media.


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