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The Yes Men: A Case Study

1670 words - 7 pages

The Yes Men (YM) began with two friends seeking to create political satire on corporate crime and globalization. Inspired by the Seattle WTO protests in 1999 the two YM Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno sought to create a website to criticize then Governor George Bush. The two were given the domain name in 1999, right before his campaign for presidency. From this website they decided to make a website similar looking to Bush’s official one, and made it a satire on his policies. The site set out to criticize the soon to be president for apparent hypocrisies in his platform. Bush campaign sent threats, which YM flipped to the media to grow their image. Famous “there ...view middle of the document...

They decided even more extreme and absurd ideas needed to be brought forth.
In perhaps their greatest prank, the YM posed as a spokesman for DOW Chemical speaking to the BBC regarding the chemical accident in Bhopal India which killed thousands and sickened hundreds of thousands. The YM had declared that DOW chemical had accepted total responsibility for the accident, and declared the liquidation of Union Carbide and use the funds to reimburse the people of Bhopal to the tune of $12 billion USD. This hoax brought about expected media frenzy and forced DOW to come out and deny the report, not before losing about $2 billion in market value. More importantly, the YM had accomplished what they had set out to do, which was create awareness to the fact that corporations routinely disregard human life in their operations and will shrug off responsibilities to those who can not insist on justice.

The YM have an overall goal of creating awareness to social issues to the general public. They bring to the public a taste of blunt truth as to what organizations are doing and saying, and how they justify seemingly deplorable actions. By spreading awareness and education in a humorous and satirical manner they are able to get through to a deeper audience then perhaps the typical activists against corporate globalization.
The YM’s vision of course is to see a world of responsible corporations and governments who take a human and humane consideration in business practices. Like many other anti-corporate globalization groups they recognize an extreme divide between rich and poor is unsustainable and inhumane. Their aim is to move people to recognize the many immoral actions of big and powerful corporations, and that there is a need for more cooperation between the rich and the poor, both nationally and trans-nationally.
Like other groups in the movement the YM’s primary goal is to educate. In order to bring about any social movement, their must be a shift in societies thinking on a particular aspect. By exposing the actions of corporations, especially those who discount human life, help show the average citizen in society that a change in thinking is necessary. This is the first step in any movement, acceptance that a wrong exists in society and a willingness to correct it.
The YM have no central location. They operate by taking advantage of invitations from different organizers of conferences, or news outlets to ‘spread the word’. On their official website the YM encourage activists to get involved and do their own high level pranks by meeting up with other fans with similar goals. They also link to many other organizations in the anti-globalization movement. As the group depends on viral videos and news releases, much of their notoriety is due to the internet. As such they are very much a world wide organization with no national boundaries and no structure per se.

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