Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos -- Yes Men Say No to Corporate Greed
We are the Yes Men, two guys who dress up as powerful businessmen, propose horrible things to audiences of actual powerful businesspeople and film them cheerfully applauding our most outrageous -- and often illegal -- ideas.
In our new film "The Yes Men Fix the World," we posed as Dow Chemical representatives at a big 2005 banking conference where we said that, clearly, any number of human deaths is acceptable as long as a project is extremely profitable. A life-size golden skeleton made sure the message hit home. Instead of recoiling in horror, most of the bankers simply applauded. One chief executive said he was interested in working with us, and a senior manager at a financial technology firm said he found the idea "refreshing."
In 2006, we posed as Halliburton reps at an insurance conference on Amelia Island, Fla. There we unveiled the "SurvivaBall," a grotesque suit six feet in diameter, made of nylon and inflated by two small computer fans, which we said would keep corporate managers safe from the climate calamities that they had helped cause. Lawyers at the conference, who represented some of the most powerful American companies, had a few questions: How much would it cost? Could it be made more comfortable? Might it work in a terrorist attack?
The art of impersonation for political purposes is catching on. Recently, a couple of conservative provocateurs dressed up as a low-rent prostitute and a pimp and visited the offices of the community organizing group ACORN (an organization we briefly featured in our film), where they got some advice about how to buy a house and start a brothel.
Like ours, those antics were widely covered in the mainstream media. But in a new twist, Congress got involved, voting to cut off ACORN's federal funding. In an even more exciting turn of events, the House legislation intended to defund ACORN is written so broadly that it would similarly cut off money to "any organization" indicted for various forms of lawbreaking, and any organization with employees or contractors who have been indicted on certain charges.
This gives us great hope. Our corporate targets, unlike ACORN, have not yet been punished. If we had known that all it takes is pimp and hooker outfits to spur such ambitious legislation, we would have bought some ages ago! Now, thanks to this case, perhaps the many companies whose reps we've filmed vigorously nodding their heads at and asking for more details about our immoral and criminal proposals will finally see justice.
If the idiocy of a few ACORN workers can lead Congress to defund that organization, surely lawmakers will move to rescind the bailout cash given to the banks whose employees seemed ready to go along with our depraved schemes, and whose reckless gambling with other people's money helped create the foreclosure crisis -- precisely the crisis that ACORN and other agencies are trying to help poor and working-class Americans cope with.
Surely such action will set a shining example for years to come and will save society from the most criminal tendencies in our midst.
Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, also known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, respectively, are the Yes Men, a culture-jamming activist group. Their new documentary, "The Yes Men Fix the World," opens next month in the United States.