The Yes Men
Directed by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, & Chris Smith
“These things that are not really presenting themselves honestly or that hide something about their nature that’s really scary. We want to bring that out. We want to show that. We want to demonstrate that. And so for like the WTO, we think that the WTO is doing all these terrible things that are hurting people and they’re saying the exact opposite. And so, we’re interested in correcting their identity in the same way that an identify thief steals somebody’s identity in order to just basically engage in criminal practices. We target people we see as criminals and we steal their identity to try to make them honest, or to try to present a more honest face.”
The Yes Men are a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction” by pretending to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations. They create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they want to spoof, and then they accept invitations received on their websites to appear at conferences, symposia, and TV shows. Their newfound, self-proclaimed authority to express the idea that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public has met both positively and negatively with political overtones. Elaborate props are sometimes part of the ruse, as shown in their 2003 DVD release The Yes Men.
The Yes Men have posed as spokespeople for The World Trade Organization, McDonald’s, Dow Chemical, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The two leading members of The Yes Men are known by a number of aliases, most recently, and in film, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. Their real names are Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, respectively. Servin is an author of experimental fiction, and was known for being the man who inserted images of men kissing in the computer game SimCopter. Vamos is an assistant professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York. They are assisted by numerous people across the globe.