The Yes Men: To crash the Republican National Convention, The Yes Men, Andy Biclbaum and Mike Bonanno, posed as fans of the Bush administration’s global warming policies. Now aimed at Bush, the two anti-corporate performance artists are mocking the president’s administration to draw attention to the hypocrisy and generate press for their movie set to be released by United Artist on September 24.
“It’s better than sitting on our asses waiting for the world to change on its own,” reads theyesmen.org.
Inside Madison Square Garden, they sought out energy secretary, Spencer Abraham and the former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich and insincerely praised them, reports the New York Times. With a street team organized outside the convention hall, Bonnano and Biclbaum distributed thousands of fake Bush campaign fliers and stickers advertising their movie The Yes Men.
The New York Times reports, a pamphlet that mocked the Patriot Act, encouraged individuals to "take the USA Patriot Pledge" and volunteer to have a "permanent nuclear waste storage facility" in their communities; another brochure parodied a "Let's Go" budget travel guide with tips on how to dress like a Republican and "where to get born again, again" on a "God-themed" Big Apple tour. They even said that they outfitted a fake Bush-Cheney campaign bus with a miniature oil rig on the roof, but it broke down on its way to New York.
The pair calls their impersonations "identity corrections." Theyesmen.org defines it as “honest people impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.” This is best displayed in their independent film that chronologically follows them as they impersonate World Trade Organization officials in public forums with provocative costumes and humorous ideas.
"We are trying to do the same thing now with Bush that we did with the W.T.O.,'' Bichlbaum said.
Their political antics in the past have been publicized when they generated an internet parody of then presidential candidate George W. Bush’s site, www.gwbush.com, which provoked him to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
Although they are not sure that what they are doing is quite legal the Yes Men admit that they have never been arrested for their impersonations.
“On the other hand, what we do might not be illegal. Lawyers don't seem to know; the ones we've asked can't point to such-and-such a law that means we're in trouble,” reads the yes men’s website. “But then the law is pretty irrelevant, as far as corporations are concerned—if they want you silenced, they just throw a totally bogus lawsuit at you, that invariably gets thrown out, and in the meantime ties you up in red tape.”
To promote the movie and for the opportunities to stage stunts, Bichlbaum and Bonanno will follow the presidential campaign as Michael Moore has done for Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore also is featured in the film.
Although the United Artist studio has distanced themselves from the two’s political stunts, they’ve scheduled screenings and media events as well along the campaign trail.
"We are in the business of supporting movies, not supporting candidates,” said the president of United Artist, Danny Rosett. The Yes Men, he added, plan and pay for their own stunts.
Executives at the studio told the New York Times that the unorthodox promotional methods may be the best way to reach a niche audience of sophisticated young people.
"Ultimately, the way you get people to see this movie is through word of mouth,'' said Rosett.
United Artist has a targeted campaign to promote the film which involves steering away from national advertising on TV and focusing on alternative papers such as the satirical publication, The Onion. A studio sponsored “Yes Men” website features a campaign blog and has offered college professors in NYC and LA The Yes Men book, which is based on the movie, to pull in students as well.
After a NYC screening of the film in Tribeca on September 1st, the two made an appearance where they revealed they’d attained a 210 page RNC script.
"Every single word was scripted, even the votes," said Biclbaum.
The New York Times reports in an interview, Biclbaum thumbed through a document to find the Tuesday night section with the governor of California's speech, full of three-word teleprompter phrases. "Arnold reads in haiku," he said.
The Yes Men will be released September 24th in NYC and LA.