Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Yes Men


The Yes Men (2003) I love movies about con games. It is not true that you can?t cheat an honest man, as current phishing schemes are proving (all it really takes is a stupid victim), though 90% of con scams involve someone eager to make a quick buck or who is convinced he?s about to cheat somebody else. I also love media hoaxes, in which people who really ought to be more careful are fooled into believing and passing on things they could have discovered to be false with just a tiny bit of research. The Internet has proved to be the best source ever for phony stories and pictures. I get two or three of them every month, from people who never bothered to check. (Try Truth or Fiction. They keep on top of stuff like that, as a public service.)

The Yes Men are dedicated media hoaxers. They easily present themselves as representatives of the World Trade Organization and proceed to sell ideas so outrageous, so transparently foolish, that anyone could see they are scams. Right?

Wrong. In one prank, aided as all their scams are by professional PowerPoint presentations, phony facts and figures, and sheer brassy presentation, they point out that outsourcing jobs to poor countries is better than slavery, because you don?t have to feed your slaves. If America had simply kept the workers in Africa, the Civil War could have been avoided. Nobody in the audience objects to this idea. They?re looking for new ways to maximize profits, and this doesn?t strike them as immoral.

To an audience of college students they outline the new proposal McDonalds is experimenting with called the ReMac. Since the human body does not extract all the available nutrition from a hamburger, they intend to recycle human waste into new hamburgers, up to ten times. Shitburgers. To their credit, the students are outraged at the idea … but none of them seem to have any trouble believing that the scheme is real. This is alarming in a whole different way. Have we lost that much faith in corporate responsibility?

I wish I could say this is a better movie than it is. The idea is great and there are some very funny moments, but the execution is sloppy. These guys needed some help from Michael Moore (who appears briefly) on how to really slam the propaganda home. It looks cobbled together, with too many behind the scenes sequences of the setup. And maybe another scam or two. Not recommended by me, but it?s short, and almost worth watching just for one scene.