Not long after the world (and us) had risen in vitriolic condemnation of the vile Goldman Sachs speech by Alessio Rastani on the BBC yesterday, it was alleged that Rastani was played by an actor and was the latest in a long line of hoaxes by a group called the Yes Men. If it is true, then it is highly-commendable in its conception and brilliant in its execution. But who are they?
A culture jamming activist duo (and network of supporters) created by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano, the Yes Men's mission statement is that of telling the truth and exposing lies and the lengths they go to to achieve this are unbelievable. Their most successful way of doing this is by setting up and maintaining websites similar to the ones they are looking to target, and this tactic has led to numerous invitations to conferences and TV talk shows. They've even released a documentary called the Yes Men Save The World.
The genius of what they do is that it is entirely believable. Looking back with hindsight on the Rastani incident (who has his own Facebook page as the devil here), it is easy to say that it is a hyper-real portrayal of a rogue trader, but everyone believed it and I'd bet my bottom dollar that that party line is wheeled out in toilet cubicles, high-class brothels and cigar lounges in every financial centre in the world. The BBC might feel they have had the wool pulled over their eyes but they aren't the first, and certainly won't be the last mass media organisation used to highlight the shady practises of the world's Thundercunts. As they say, sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth...
Yes Bush Can
They had previous with George W. Bush from his first presidential campaign but their work in 2004 is one of the greatest hoaxes we've ever heard of. The Yes Men went out on the stump posing as a group called 'Yes, Bush Can' and convinced supporters to sign a Patriot Pledge that not only stated they'd keep nuclear waste in their backyards but also that they would send their children to war.
The World Trade Organization
Perhaps the most famous hoax by the duo, they set up a 'corrected' version of the WTO site. Dressed to the nines in new suits, they gave speeches arguing that the US Civil War was a waste of money because Third World countries now supply slaves, told corporations to buy votes directly from citizens and stated that people should listen to the WTO instead of the facts. The piece de resistance of this hoax was when they unveiled a gold spandex bodysuit that would increase productivity as managers could now track workers by using sensors in the suit rather than actually watching them.
In October last year, on the morning of the day that Chevron were due to release a PR campaign attempting to Greenwash their continued environmental and human rights atrocities in Ecuador, the Yes Lab and the Rainforest Action Network And Amazon Watch launched their own satirical version and website of the 'we agree' campaign that not only completely derailed the $50 million campaign but served its purpose in highlighting the wrongdoings of the oil company and forcing them to do something about it. They provided downloadable satirical posters that thousands of people fly-posted throughout America and also sent news outlets into a frenzy that resulted in unintentional mash-ups of 'real' and 'fake' news appearing. Find out more here.
New Orleans And The Housing and Urban Development
In the shitstorm of obfuscation and government fence sitting that followed Hurricaine Katrina, people raged over the fact that the Government refused to let people back into their homes and wanted to tear them down to essentially drive out the poor. On August 28 2006, posing as a fake assistant under-secretary of the United States Depratment of Housing and Urban Development called Rene Oswin, one the Yes Men delivered a speech in front of real estate developers stating that "HUD had changed its mind about tearing down the undamaged housing units, and would not tear down the housing projects, as they had planned to do in order to replace them with mixed-income development." While this clearly outlined the need for affordable housing, HUD spokeswoman Donna White was only moved to say no one named "Rene Oswin" works for the department. White commented, "I'm like, who the heck is that”
The New York Times
For proof of the Yes Men's commitment look no further than printing 80,000 copies fake copies of the New York Times and handing them out in NYC and LA as they did in 2008. With a spoofed motto of 'All The News We Hope To Print' replacing the standard 'all the news fit to print' the issue contained headlines such as Iraq War Ends and Nation Sets Its Sights on Building Sane Economy, whilearticles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives, including an establishment of national health care, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s and an article where George W. Bush accuses himself of treason for his actions during his years as president.
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