From convincing an audience that the candles they were given were made from humans to posing as corporate executives on live television, two men have gone to great lengths to prove sometimes, it takes a lie and a bit of humor to send a message.
On Nov. 6 in the Arts and Communications Building, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Jay Jones hosted In Context, which features a film of Jones’ choice each week.
The latest film, “The Yes Men Fix the World,” featured a comedic series of hoaxes against large corporations.
Hosted by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, known in the documentary by the aliases Andy and Mike respectively, “The Yes Men Fix the World” follows the duo’s stunts to right the social and environmental wrongs of big business. They attempted to hold companies accountable for causing damage to a community.
By creating fake websites, emails and disguises, the Yes Men appeared to be legitimate when they posed as executives. While these impersonations did not always result in an organization taking responsibility for past actions, they called for change and reminded the world about people who had fallen victim to greed. The film featured several of the Yes Men’s major stunts.
Through a series of interviews, videos and voice overs, viewers saw how Servin posed as a representative of Dow Chemical on a live BBC interview and announced that $12 million would be spent on the clean-up of Bhopal, India after a major chemical leak from Union Carbide, one of Dow Chemical’s assets.
Although the official Dow Chemical denied the claims, the Yes Men’s hoax shed light on the disaster site that remained polluted 20 years later.
After the showing, the audience and Jones commented on the documentary and its dry humor approach. While they generally enjoyed the film, they were also left questioning the legitimacy.
The audience agreed that while its authenticity may be unclear, its message is not: businesses should take responsibility for their social and ecological impact. “Somebody has to stand up and say what needs to be said. I thought that this film did that in a very powerful way,” Jones said.
Senior political science major David Asbra remained skeptical about the authenticity.
“The film was really interesting,” Asbra said. “Even though it was all a hoax about a hoax, it really brought out what it could be in an American system. We live in a society based on human actions.”
La Verne resident Colleen Bennett referred to this particular film as a “comedy Trojan horse.”
“It got a serious message across in a very humorous way which is probably the best way to get people to listen,” said Bennett. “I think it’s sad that people had to come into these situations under a falsehood to get people to really listen to their message.”
Taylor Bolanos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.