Yes Men

WTO NEWS: 2006 PRESS RELEASES. With a cursory glance the previous link looks like an official WTO press release, even looking at the URL it seems fairly official; however, upon closer inspection something doesn’t seem quite right. That is because this WTO Press Release is brought to you by the same people who brought you the documentary The Yes Men, “Changing the world one prank at a time.” Some might remember The Yes Men as an official selection of the Toronto Film Festival. A full description of their activities can be found at Wikipedia. To quote from Wikipedia,

“The Yes Men are a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction”. They pretend to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations, accepting invitations received on their websites to appear at symposiums and TV shows. They use their newfound authority to express the idea that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public. Elaborate props are sometimes part of the ruse.”

Some of their targets have included, The World Trade Organization, McDonald’s, Dow Chemical, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a list of predicitions for 2007, and going forward, I wonder if more sites like the one linked to above might begin to sprout up. I find it fairly surprising that the internet and technological innovation have not led to more of this type of culture jamming; but maybe that is just me.


  1. Very nicely done; aside from the headline and a few typos scattered throughout, it would take you awhile to realize you were being duped. Jonathan Swift would, I think, be pretty pleased with what his 21st-century heirs have made of his legacy.

    What strikes me, though, is how frequently newscasts and media reports have been targeted by satirists in recent years, and what easy targets they make. Parodying the news really hit the mainstream with Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” though I suppose its antecedents could be found in The Harvard Lampoon, and certainly further back again. Since then, we’ve had (among the better ones) The Onion, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and in Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Frank magazine, among many others. News satire is now so overdone as to be clichéd, and there are far too many rank amateurs competing with the really sharp pros.

    But the surfeit of news satires is nonetheless a telling indication — and ought to be a clear sign to the media themselves — that not only are they not being taken seriously, they’re viewed as part of the problem. (Read Jon Stewart’s “America: the Book” for a truly satisfying savaging of the media). I don’t want to go on a typical blogger’s anti-MSM rant, but the mainstream media really is more out of touch with reality, and in deeper trouble, than it realizes. (Check out John Doyle’s recent dismissal, in his Globe & Mail column, of online TV reviewers for a good example of the disconnect gap).

    Increasingly, what’s being parodied in satirical news reports isn’t the subject matter of MSM news – there are limits to how effectively you can lampoon George W. Bush – but the media’s voice itself. North American mainstream media clings to the wrongheaded idea that it needs to be “objective” and “fair,” terms that end up being synonyms for “interview ‘both sides of the story’ and report what they say equally and uncritically.” The media confuses objectivity for passivity, reporting nonsense in the same measured, neutral tone as reason and reporting genocide in Darfur with as much colour and concern (less, in fact) than the most recent Senators-Sabres game. Every reporter who ventures into Darfur should be filing copy brimming with scandal and outrage, forcing us to confront the monstrosity in our midst; but aside from the Globe’s Stefanie Nolen, I don’t know many who do.

    That, I think, is what all the faux-news satires and parodies really spring from – not so much Swiftian denunciation of the world’s crimes and misdemeanours, which are certainly legion, but from an equally harsh denunciation of the moral equivalence and empty concern with which the mainstream media report it to us. But even there, the media simply serves as a scapegoat for our own apathy and equivalence; prodded to action (mostly unsuccessfully) as we are by our consciences, it’s easier to blame the messenger with the pablum message than it is to blame the contended couch potatoes who receive it.

    What do you know, that was a typical blogger’s rant. Sorry about that. :-)

  2. Along those lines, here is the list of the Top 10 most censored stories of 2005-2006 (article in the Tucson Weekly). Note the presence of Global, an independent news site based in Canada, which I was heretofore, unaware of.