Directed by Chris Smith, Dan Ollman and Sarah Price, starring Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.
When anti-corporate activist-pranksters Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, aka the Yes Men, decided to set up a website modelled on that of the World Trade Organisation, they had no idea that people would take them seriously. But that's just what happened and they soon found themselves invited to speak at conferences representing the WTO. 'The Yes Men' documents their antics, and how easily they got away with them.
While the WTO purports to promote fair trade and a free global economy, Andy and Mike – and other protestors – see it as doing the opposite, ie; promoting the interests of big business over small. The Yes Men aimed to create a more accurate picture of what the WTO does by creating over-the-top policies and presenting them to business leaders all over the world.
This kind of 'identity correction', as the Yes Men call it, ranged from the bizarre – inventing a gold, skin-tight leisure suit featuring a penis-shaped appendage with an in-built screen to allow managers to monitor workers, to the inspired – announcing the disbanding of the WTO. The Yes Men's lectures were so completely outlandish that it's hard to believe that their audiences actually accepted them as fact, but they did, which is the funniest thing about the Yes Men's activities.
It's not really clear though, how their efforts at sending up the WTO were supposed to make the public, or the WTO itself, even, re-evaluate the organisation. Parodying a body like the WTO so effectively is funny, but the Yes Men's message was lost in the wacky scope of their vision.
If the filmmakers had documented some of the Yes Men's earlier activities, such as their parody of George W Bush's website, or Mike's involvement in the Barbie Liberation Organisation, the documentary would have benefited. These projects are only referred to in passing, but they're more interesting by far than the WTO hoaxes and make a simpler and more direct point. The Yes Men's daring is inspiring, but a little misplaced here.