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The Yes Men

The Yes Men

Posted: October 5, 2009 08:51 PM

The Yes Men Fix the World's a Riot. No, Really.

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We all know the facts.

Free-market capitalism is dangerous. It's run by a whole lot of bad, powerful people, and it hurts a whole lot of people who don't deserve to be hurt.

So much for the obvious. Now what?

Our movie, The Yes Men Fix the World, will help answer that question. It opens this Wednesday in New York City - and if it doesn't become the first film run shut down by the NYPD, it'll be the most action-packed week in New York film history.

The film's story is simple: two guys, armed with nothing but thrift-store suits, infiltrate the world of big business, where we make a lot of bad, powerful people really uncomfortable.

You'll see us knock $2 billion off Dow Chemical's share price, expose New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for the corporate lackey he is, and show some of the most powerful free-market spokesmen to be C-level liars.

Around you in the theater you'll hear spontaneous cheering, multiple bursts of hysterical laughter, a few sniffles, and the occasional thud of an audience member rolling in the aisles. If past screenings at Sundance, Berlin, and many other places are any guide, you'll also see a standing ovation, and, as the lights go up, a room of people visibly eager to rise up and fight.

For five years, we worked hard to make a film that would make people feel that way. It worked, which makes us happy. The fact that Sunday's New York Magazine called it a "glorious testimony to the moral power of satire" and "outrageously entertaining" makes us happy too.

But WANTING to rise up isn't enough. A cinema isn't a town hall, popcorn isn't paving stones, and change doesn't come from people sitting together in a dark theater.

What matters is what happens when the movie is over, and the audience takes to the streets.

That's exactly what they're going to do after seeing our movie, this week in New York, and then, two weeks later, nationwide.

We can't tell you exactly what'll happen each night. But we can give you some hints, at least for the week ahead in New York.

Wednesday's premiere (October 7) will be the national launch of "Balls Across America," the preview of which made a big splash on CNN thanks to New York's boys in blue. Assorted stars and starlets, fitted with their own custom " Survivaballs," will waddle off to wreak havoc on unsuspecting climate criminals. (These things are remarkably hard to put handcuffs on!)

The next day (Thursday) we'll lead a rowdy-as-usual crowd from the 8pm screening across town to the "Hijinx" Premiere Party at the Delancey, hosted by some of New York's most revved-up muckrakers. Interestingly, a massive new Whole Foods sits smack dab in the middle of that crosstown march - providing a great opportunity to make Whole Foods CEO John Mackey continue regretting his recent reactionary comments on health-care reform. (Do big-box stores have stupidity insurance?)

Opening weekend kicks off with a Friday matinee screening hosted by the Raging Grannies, Granny Peace Brigade and Gray Panthers. These elders get arrested blocking access to recruitment centers and otherwise putting their bodies on the line against militarism and war profiteering. Who will bear the brunt of the Grannies' rage Friday? Come early to find out.

Friday's 8pm screening is hosted by Reverend Billy, the Green Candidate for mayor of New York City, and his ever-rambunctious choir. The Reverend, who's been arrested more than 40 times, has a stubborn habit of using humor, gospel, and civil disobedience to fight grave injustices. Only blocks away from the Film Forum theater sits one particularly blatant example of injustice. Is levitation really a myth? Buy tickets now to find out!

Saturday night the ruckus goes international, with simultaneous screenings in three foreign cities featured in our film: Bhopal, Calgary, and New Orleans. (OK, New Orleans isn't really a foreign city, but you wouldn't guess it from how the US government continues to treat Katrina's victims.) Each of these screenings, plus post-screening fracas, will be hosted by a group we either worked with in the film, or were inspired by: the Sambhavna Clinic (Bhopal), the Arusha Centre (Calgary), and Common Ground (New Orleans).

Back in New York, almost every remaining night of our two-week run we'll be sharpening pitchforks with an incredible list of activist partners: CODEPINK, Rainforest Action Network, Picture the Homeless, SEIU, Witness, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Corporate Accountability International... The list goes on and on.

But New York is only the start. Beginning October 23, "Balls Across America" will visit dozens of cities across this great, weird land of ours. See www.theyesmenfixtheworld.com/screenings.htm for full schedule.

Sweeping positive changes have only come to America when there's been a progressive President, pushed to do the right thing by large numbers of rowdy citizens. (Think FDR and the New Deal; think LBJ and the Civil Rights movement.)

Today, we've got the progressive President. Now all we need is to vote with our feet, and enable him to do what we elected him for.

Our film is a small part of a movement to help make that happen. Another part is BeyondTalk.net - a website we recently launched in collaboration with a dozen direct-action activists. The idea is to get 10,000 folks to sign the "Climate Pledge of Resistance" and risk arrest to demand sane climate-change policy. On November 30, the tenth anniversary of the Seattle protests, and a week before the Copenhagen climate talks, those 10,000 activists will form the largest civil disobedience action in recent protest history.

Please join us on this big, crazy trip. And on the way, please see our film and learn how you too can have a riot while fixing the world.

Special note to our friends:

We've got no ad budget to speak of. Want to help our film do well regardless? Easy! Just Twitter, Facebook, and email your friends and let them know they should see it. Use our fancy HTML e-flier or the simple text version. Change your Facebook status, or your Facebook picture - either to the poster or a weird inflatable widget.

And as you leave the theater, Twitter your friends to tell them what you thought of the film. It won't fix the world, but if they do go see the movie as a result, and it helps them realize that things can change, you'll feel pretty proud!

And finally: in our quest to build an adequate Survivaball army, we're currently 20 short of our goal. Is there a Survivaball angel out there? If so, please write angel@survivaball.com.

 

Follow The Yes Men on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theyesmen