Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Yes Men

I just finished watching an incredibly hilarious film that I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of earlier(It was released in 2003). The Yes Man—a mockumentary in Michael Mooresuque fashion—follows two ingenious and creative anti-globalization activists posing as WTO representatives from Paris, to Finland, to New York, places in between, and then finally to Australia where they dramatically announce the dissolution of the WTO.

The Yes Men, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, are invited to speak at a number of international conferences on matters of multilateral trade policy—this, of course, on the strength of their faux WTO website that actually criticizes WTO practices. Conference organizers, who clearly neglect to authenticate the veracity of Bonanno and Bichlhaum’s site, fall pray to the Yes Men’s use of irony, with a tough of abject realism, to openly mock conference members and convey what they feel to be the actual function of the WTO: To beggar poor nations for the benefit of large multinational corporations.

The most side splittingly funny part of the film, for me at least, came when Andy Bichlbaum (impersonating a WTO representative) explained to an assembled group of conference members that the American Civil War was unnecessary, since natural market forces would have solved the icky problem of slavery. Covered in a gold spandex body suit, with a phallic shaped inflatable shaft protruding from his crotch, Bichlbaum also introduce conference members to the future of efficient management: A skin tight leisure suit that allows managers—through a protruding shaft that contains a computer screen at its tip—to monitor the every move of employees all over the world—employees who’ve been implanted with an electronic sensory chip that corrects intransigent employees with electrical shocks, naturally. This consequently frees up more leisure time for managers to ski, enjoy sunsets, and pop champagne, as the Yes Men’s comically professional power point illustrates.

Needless to say, the film is irreverent and thoughtfully evocative. Beneath the easy smiles of anti-corporatist pranksterism lies a deadly serious and obtusely understood issue: Globalization’s discontents will soon register their appeals to the WTO un-reality based paradigms. I’m not usually a Cassandra; but if what’s going on in Latin American is any portent, then a sea change in international affair is likely taking place. Very, very sleepy; cogency slowly diminishing.

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