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Lies, All Lies

By: Steven Heller | July 30, 2009

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?

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