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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton


 The Yes  Men Fix the World


Directors Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (2009)

With names like Bichlbaum and Bonanno itís not surprising that these two US comics have a grudge against the world Ė but itís a grudge we can all, well nearly all, share.

The Yes Men Fix the World is the second instalment of Andy and Mikeís mischievous campaign to expose the idiocy and obscenity of an economic system thatís only interested in profit. They have two methods. One is to pose as top businessmen and declare an outrageously daft scheme. The other is to pose as top businessman and declare an ourageously sensible scheme.

Some people, of course, canít tell the difference. That is one of the points theyíre making. But for a normal audience itís the latter approach that, surprisingly perhaps, is the most effective.

For instance, as representatives of chemical giant Dow they announce on the BBC a multi-billion dollar compensation for the victims of the Bhopal disaster caused by Dow subsidiary Union Carbide.

Or, as representatives of Americaís federal housing agency, they go to New Orleans and tell a conference they are reversing the plan to gentrify the city laid to waste by Hurricane Katrina and instead create affordable public housing for ordinary exiled people to return to. Whatís more the oil companies have agreed to restore the protective coastal wetlands theyíve destroyed so it doesnít happen again.

For an hour or two both these schemes are celebrated as sensible and humane Ė then the truth dawns that they must come from sick pranksters since there is clearly no profit in either of them.

But this doc makes it clear that itís not Andy and Mike who are sick but the world they infiltrate. When accused of lying they point out that they are telling the truth about what ought to be done.

Although itís no consistent work, the brilliance of The Yes Men Fix the World lies in its simplicity and the clarity of a simple message: another world is possible.


August 17, 2009

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