The mood at the West Coast premier of The Yes Men Fix the World in Los Angeles last night was jubilant! Angelenos who turned out for the free screening enjoyed happy hour at the Hammer Museum while dancing with two Survivaballs bouncing around the courtyard — before heading in to see the film about performance-activists playing high-profile pranks for socially progressive causes.

And the film didn’t disappoint. The Yes Men Fix the World kicks off with the pranksters impersonating a Dow Chemical spokesperson — on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, when thousands died from a chemical leak created by the now-Dow-owned Union Carbide. The “spokesperson” announced to millions of viewers that Dow would liquidate Union Carbide’s assets and pay out $12 billion to compensate the victims and clean up the environmental mess still in Bhopal:

Thanks to that hijinks, Dow’s stock took a $2 billion hit. And while many environmentalists must have been happy to see Dow’s stock price go down, The Yes Men decided that the reason Dow doesn’t do right by the people Bhopal is because the company gets punished for doing good. The rules of the game had to change — so The Yes Men started going after the government.
IMG_7917 by you.

You’ve probably seen some of The Yes Men’s recent tricks towards that end, since the pranksters have both successfully impersonated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chased down Sen. Arlen Specter in the last week or so. The Yes Men Fix the World covers some similar pranks — including impersonating of a U.S. Housing and Urban Development official at the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Conference, distributing fake, more hopeful copies of The New York Times, and more.

While the film’s hilarious, The Yes Men’s message is serious. During the post-screening Q&A, Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum urged that we, as concerned citizens, need to start taking to the streets, Earth Day-style. Obama’s getting a lot of industry pressure to do the wrong thing, Andy pointed out, and he needs pressure from us to support better decisions, whether it’s for health care reform or climate change legislation.

Towards that end, The Yes Men are behind, a website that lets you sign up to take direct, nonviolent action — even risking arrest — during the Copenhagen Climate Talks this December.

Are you ready to go beyond talk?


Bottom photo of Survivaballs at the Hammer Museum by Siel

The Yes Men Fix the World
The Yes Men's new film uses pranks and stunts to inspire people into serious activism.