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The Yes Men at Cinema Texas

Saturday I joined Chris at the Social Engineering and Social Hacking event at Cinema Texas.

I'd heard of the Yes Men before and knew that they engage in high-profile pranks in which they impersonate officials from organizations like the WTO and take the podium at conferences to say what these guys really think. They also give fashion tips.

The Yes Men

I was a bit confused because the Cinema Texas program referred to a set of short films but the Yes men site said that this weekend was the New York and LA premiere of their feature-length documentary The Yes Men. So what were we going to see, the shorts or the feature? It turned out to be a bit of both. Yes Man Tyler Nordgren showed excerpts from the feature as well as some short pieces by other allied artists and online demos of some of his art/subversive websites. He was the creator of the now-defunct site (archived copy) which invited users to generate new bar codes for their favorite consumer goods at more favorable prices. His specialty is "reamed" sites, satirical clones of existing sites, for which the Yes Men have even published a tool called "Reamweaver". It was their spoof of a World Trade Organization site,, which got them invited to to conferences by organizers who thought they really represented the WTO.

The video of those appearances was pretty amazing. It's remarkable enough that a bunch of international bureaucrats and the journalists who cover them would sit quietly through a purported WTO official's defense of slavery, but to do the same when the WTO dude appears in a golden body suit sporting a four-foot inflatable phallus? Let's hope the movie does well enough in New York and LA to be released nationally.

movies 2004.09.25 link


How was the event? Just read an article on the Yes Men (I'd never heard of them before) on Salon, which was about an interesting as anything gets there. I was particularly impressed by their ability to get onto TV as talking heads and then go off. Reminded me a little of old-school radio pranksters Coyle & Sharp and also bizarre Euro-troublemakers etoy.

georg [georg cxe nc punkto rr punkto com] • 2004.09.26
As I say in my revised blog entry above, the event was great.

One of the curiosities of their story is that they didn't hire publicists and try to go to these events; they just put up their little website and got invited. It makes you wonder what a more concerted effort could accomplish.

I forgot to mention one of the funniest pranks. Earlier this year they got an old Winnebago and had it skinned as a GW Bush campaign bus with the slogan on the side, "Yes Bush Can!" Can what, they didn't say -- maybe read? Speak in complete sentences? Unfortunately the bus broke down so we may never know.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.09.27
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