Yes Men Workshop

May 21, 2009

Andy Bichelbaum from the Yes Men was in Berlin for a workshop, where he discussed with activists their plans for actions in a YesMen tradition. In the evening we went to see his new movie ‘The Yes Men Fix the world” and here are a few thought about their strategy.


This is fantastic, spoiling the glamour of the red carpet and shifting the spectators gaze onto the rotten core of the glamourous spectacle, bringing into focus the absuridity of the festivity and its pomp.

The YesMen exemplified this intrusion and subtraction well that i talked about in my previous post on the G20 protest. Their innovative strategy is revealed when their at their comic best, when they play the corportate exaggerations (like WTO representative, McDonals, Halliburton and the Survivaballs), rather than in their simulation of Corporate Social Responsbility (like Hurricane Kathrina or the infamous 300 million viewed Union Carbide Bhopal disaster intervention, that is when they’re strategy is “identity-correction”, where they demask and denounce the individual corporations negligence, putting up logos of corporations and personifying the cause of troubles). In these latter Corporate Social Responsibility stunts, the aim is somekind of positive project, an alternative agenda/possibility. In the first variation of YesMen stunts, exaggeration and grotesqueness’ are the main techniques. I think they differ from Billionares for Bush and the like, because they go through the process of intrusion and therefore undertake the work of breaking the binary to get at that non-binaric stance momentarily reached by the subtraction. For Example when you see those security / weapons manufacturers ask questions about how the new Halliburton Survivaball suite could withstand biological attacks then you witness their state of being duped of their dupidity, which shows how the whole weapons industry depends on the nodding support and forced awe and applause directed at positions of power (also in the classic WTO example of the yesmen, where people still clap at the end). Somehow the systems symbolic power is revealed, to the viewer, or the non-dimwitted. But it seems its not so much a matter of wit, as the fact of not being materially immersed in the structuring envirments that ritually calls for your mental and bodily obidience to those with the sceptre and crown. But by switching these insignias of power in the immersed environment (the survivaballs at the Conference-Hall for Corporates listening to the hotshots) they reveal the relations which sustain the corporate fests. As with the survivorballs suits when the crash the BMW gala in Berlin (the video above), the grotesqueness of the gowns and all those bodies dressed in suits is amplified.

So the intrusion is the mimicking /performing of the e.g. Corporate-Capitalist symbolic identity, but the attendees dont notice these impersonations, for them it would be ‘buisness as usual’”. This is more destabalizing than ‘denouncing’, since it allowes a momentary burst of laughter, an incredulity and anxiety that contains an awareness of the fragility and arbitraryness of the Symbolically based mechanism of corportate power.

(Ill try to post radical jokes at the end of each post)
Stephen Colbert – what happens if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it – then my illegal logging buisness is succeeding

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