Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Yes Men (2003)

Yes, The Yes Men is worth a look.

Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaun take a slightly different approach than American filmmaker Michael Moore when it comes to their social activist approach to filmmaking.

Moore often shows up with a camera in tow to confront people he may disagree with. A security guard usually shows up or a hand is put in front of the camera.

Bonanno and Bichlbaun pretend they're representatives of the World Trade Organization and make outlandish statements that would never be spoken by the international group.

Their goal is to highlight what they argue are imbalances in trade between nations. Developed countries get the spoils, they say, and underdeveloped counterparts get the shaft.

Bonanno and Bichlbaun set up a faux WTO-like site and wait for business interests who don't notice they're a bogus entity. The boys start this documentary with a presentation in Finland. They argue the northern states were wrong to interfere with slavery during the American Civil War. Posing as WTO reps, they suggest slavery - repositioned as "remote labour" still offers lucrative boosts to the bottom line in the 21st century. The selling of votes for elections is pitched. Their crowning achievement - a gold coloured suit with a phallic-like attachment that allows corporate brass to monitor what their cheaply paid workers are doing thousands of miles away. Oh, receptors are implanted in the bodies of labourers so the boss, with the aid of transmitters, can feel what they're feeling.

No one asks any questions. No one in the audience is outraged. Media later pick up the story and their appearance gets covered in Fortune Magazine and The New York Times.

The Yes Men continues with a visit to an American college campus, where the younger set are a little more attentive to their pair's message - this time suggesting human waste from America be sold as meat in poorer countries.

Bonanno and Bichlbuan's final appearance is in Australia where it's suggested the World Trade Organization will reinvent itself because, given its current model, poor nations are not being helped.

Audience members are surprised to learn of WTO's plans, but welcome a chance for workers who need a hand up to get one with the trade group's reorientation.

The Yes Men won't win marks for its photography, but its message will make audiences think and ask questions. That's a good thing.

RATING: 8/10

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