Lies, All Lies

From the days of Allan Funt’s Candid Microphone and Candid Camera to Paul Krassner’s Realist, to Borat, Bruno, Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and The Yes Men, entertainers and satirists have been hoaxing the public to reveal truths and humiliate the powerful. The other night, HBO premiered The Yes Men Fix The World, a film documenting “two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world’s most outrageous pranks.” The guys, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno teach media and graphic design and have put their balls where their mouths are with such pranks as this: “Purporting to be a Dow Chemical spokesperson, Andy gets on the
biggest TV news program in the world and announces that Dow will finally clean
up the site of the largest industrial accident in history, the Bhopal
catastrophe. The result: as people worldwide celebrate, Dow’s stock
value loses two billion dollars.” Andy appears on the BBC World as “breaking news” (below) before being found out.

The film is a catalog of satiric hijinx in the service of justice. Also including the SurvivaBall (above), “designed to protect the corporate manager no
matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way,” a classic intervention at the Catastrophic Loss
conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. “This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate
change,” he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

How do you feel about hoaxes in the service of satire?


Daily Heller, Imprint: Print Magazine's Design Blog

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.