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A comedic documentary which follows The Yes Men, a small group of prankster activists, as they gain world-wide notoriety for impersonating the World Trade Organization on television and at business conferences around the world. The film begins when two members of The Yes Men, Andy and Mike, set up a website that mimics the World Trade Organization's--and it's mistaken for the real thing. They play along with the ruse and soon find themselves invited to important functions as WTO representatives. Delighted to represent the organization they politically oppose, Andy and Mike don thrift-store suits and set out to shock unwitting audiences with darkly comic satire that highlights the worst aspects of global free trade. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
a great seal on a wonderful year for documentaries (2004)
The Yes Men is a documentary about a group of anti-economic liberalization activists who have made a unique habit of impersonating the WTO and other right-wing organizations (including the George W. Bush presidential campaign) in talks and national media spots. They try to get noticed by the overblown repugnance of the right-wing plans they suggest for the world's poor. If Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was a satirical short story about the rich literally devouring the impoverished, these guys are the long running Broadway adaptation.
Despite the release of the movie and many high profile performances, they still have not been properly outed, which is good for their continued success since still nobody recognizes them, but part of their aim is to get people who would normally listen to the WTO talk start thinking about globalization and its human consequences in the third world (poverty, hunger, pollution, disease, increased political and domestic violence, environmental destruction, and so on).
Since it's a documentary normally I wouldn't be lauding performances, but in this case, these guys do perform for their audience, and they are absolutely wonderful. They propose such things as recycling human waste to be made into McDonald's hamburgers to be sold in the third world. To see them advocating the employment of sweatshop workers because it's more humane than slavery and MUCH more cost effective (since "involuntarily relocated workers" require room and board at American rates and in the third world you can employ dozens for the same price and you don't have to look after their health or recoup the costs of transporting them overseas if they "escape"), while nobody listening bats an eye, is hilarious (if horrifying). They take the best of Michael Moore, The Corporation, and Supersize Me and sneak it in under the noses of the world's economic and academic elite at conferences on globalization.
I was lucky because the filming ended in 2002, but the proprietors of the theater where I saw it downloaded their latest prank off webcast, which featured a Yes Man impersonating a spokesman for Dow Chemicals speaking on the Bhopal massacre, which was easily equal to anything else they'd pulled off, and played it at the end of the movie.
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