What stuck out to me especially about The Yes Men Fix the World were the commercials produced by Dow and other companies to mend their public image. These commercials are incredibly disturbing within the context of the Bhupal tragedy and the massive problem that is global warming. Having deconstructed media all semester, I couldn’t help but imagine a new media project involving these commercials. Taking from Jason Simon’s commercial project that we watched in class and from “The Iraq Campaign 1991: A Television History” by Phil Patiris, I imagine these public image commercials — with their creepy narration and warped logic — overlaid with images of the actual devastation that the commercial attempts to hide.
Instead of images of beautiful mountain landscapes and plants growing in weird bottles, the reality of the violence that Dow has left unacknowledged would be front and center.
The disembodied voice of these commercials, telling us we don’t understand the problem and that it isn’t a problem at all, would become even more obviously creepy and we’d be made to see even clearer what a carefully arted trick these commercials are.
The Yes Men constantly play with public compliance to images such as these. The keynote address scene with the “human” candles is especially chilling in their film. The horrified looks on the audiences faces as they subtly but quickly blow out their Reggie Watts candles! !! AND when the Yes Men are pushed off stage, one camera shot pans the audience and most of the candles are still lit! Then an awkward, but audible applause is heard. The Yes Men make such effective use of the ethos that the public automatically awards to these corporate executives, and reminds their duped audience how much a position title or a company backing affects one’s credibility – deserved or not!
This keynote appearance reminded me of a Ted Talk by Sam Hyde that criticizes the Ted Talk format and its speakers as producers of knowledge (or at least that is the most academically I can frame this ridiculous and hilarious video). It comes off more as a prank than a political statement, but it is still so entertaining and brings up interesting questions about the format of Ted Talk and who we trust to talk about world issues.