From our reading of Chapter 5, “Turning Signs Into Question Marks,” Meikle summarizes French thinker Michel de Certeau and his explanation of tactics: “A tactic […] exploits time –the moments of opportunity and possibility made possible as cracks appear in the evolution of strategic place.” After all, a tactic “is about moments of resistance.” Tactical media works to illustrate through its campaigns “the small cracks that appear in the mediascape through the rapid evolution of technology and the catch up process of regulatory policy.” It is through this catch-up process that institutions, government and corporate America will find themselves making their largest mistakes in their resisting efforts to fill these “cracks.”
In an excerpt from The Guardian, the importance of a sense of humor is highlighted in a quotation from The Yes Men in their response to the Dow Chemical Bhopal apology hoax, when The Yes Men are interrogated by the media as to their hoax and its ramifications, having given a society false hope.
On their website [The Yes Men] describe how they briefly considered going on TV to explain that Dow doesn’t “give a rat’s ass about the people of Bhopal” but instead settled on announcing “a radical new direction for the company, one in which Dow takes full responsibility for the disaster”.
“We will lay out a straightforward ethical path for Dow to follow to compensate the victims, remediate the site, and otherwise help make amends for the worst industrial disaster in history.”
Their account says they considered the risks, including giving false hope to Bhopal’s victims, but decided “what’s an hour of false hope to 20 years of unrealised ones?” and said they hoped the stunt would focus media attention on the issue and might even force Dow to make a compensatory move.
The Yes Men turn this BBC media event into an opportunity to apologize but, most importantly, to highlight an “ethical path…to compensate the victims,” thus turning the pressure of the media’s focus on DOW once more for a call to action rather than focusing on the consequences of the ‘ruse.’ Certeau’s characterization of the tactic states: “It operates in isolated actions, blow by blow. It takes advantage of ‘opportunities’ and depends on them, being without base where it could stockpile its winnings,” in other words, without a reaction from the exploited, the campaign delivers very little, if any, influence in change in policy or action. A tactic[al media campaign] “can be where it is least expected. It is a guileful ruse.”