The Yes Men
From CT4CT: Creative Tools for Critical Times
The Yes Men are a group of culture jammers who engage in what they call "identity correction" by impersonating powerful leaders and spokespersons for corporations and prominent organizations. They create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they want to spoof, and then they accept invitations received on their websites to appear at conferences, symposia, and TV shows.
The Barbie Liberation Organization's (B.L.O.) Barbie Liberation (1993) was an artistic prank in which the voice boxes of 300 talking Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls were switched. The modified dolls were then secretly returned to stores to be purchased by unsuspecting consumers. The B.L.O. was founded by Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men.
According to the B.L.O.:
The surgery was no simple matter — circuit boards had to be trimmed, a capacitor moved, and a switch re-engineered. The press made it sound like an easy pop-and-switch operation, but this took some research and dedication. The BLO returned the altered dolls to the toy store shelves, who then resold them to children who had to invent scenarios for Barbies who yelled “Vengeance is mine!” and G.I. Joes who daydreamed “Let’s plan our dream wedding!” Cleverly placed “call your local TV news” stickers on the back ensured that the media would have genuine recipients to interview as soon as the news broke. One BLO member counted up the many benefits of their program: “The storekeepers make money twice, we stimulate the economy — the consumer gets a better product — and our message gets heard.”
- Barbie/G.I. Joe Home Surgery Instructions (.pdf)
- Barbie Liberation
- RTMark: B.L.O.: Past Projects
- Wikipedia: RTMark
- YouTube: B.L.O.
Dow Does the Right Thing
The Yes Men's Dow Does the Right Thing (2004) was a media hoax in which a member of the Yes Men impersonated a spokesperson for Dow Chemical on the BBC World and discussed the company's position on the 1984 Bhopal disaster (on its 20th anniversary). Using the pseudonym Jude (patron saint of the impossible) Finestera (earth's end), he claimed that Dow had agreed to clean up the site and compensate those harmed in the incident. Immediately following this interview, Dow's share price fell 4.2% in 23 minutes, for a loss of $2 billion in market value. It later recovered after Dow issued a statement denouncing the compensation package and clarifying that Finestera's statements were part of a hoax.
- Democracy Now!: Yes Men Hoax on BBC Reminds World of Dow Chemical’s Refusal to Take Responsibility for Bhopal Disaster
- The Yes Men: Dow Does the Right Thing
- The Yes Men's Dow Ethics website
- YouTube: Bohapal Disaster - BBC - The Yes Men
- Wikipedia: Bhopal Disaster
The New York Times Special Edition
The New York Times Special Edition (2008) was a spoof edition of the New York Times created by the Yes Men, Steve Lambert, CodePINK, and a number of other artists, writers and activist groups. 1.2 million copies of the paper were printed and distributed for free on the streets of New York City.
According to the New York Times:
The spurious 14-page papers — with a headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS” — surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate. The paper is dated July 4, 2009, and imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics. The hoax was accompanied by a Web site that mimics the look of The Times’s real Web site. A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of progressive organizations, which were also listed in the print edition.
- New York Times: Liberal Pranksters Hand Out Times Spoof
- New York Times Special Edition (Spoof website)
- Reuters: Hoax NY Times newspaper declares end of Iraq war (November 2008)
- Wired: Spoof New York Times Proclaims Iraq War Over
- YouTube: FAKE NY TIMES hoax on CNN (The Yes Men)