In 1999, just before the big protests in Seattle, Mike and Andy set up a parody of the WTO website at the domain GATT.org. Some people mistook it for the real thing and wrote in with questions about all sorts of trade matters. Finally, Mike and Andy found themselves invited to conferences to speak as the organization they opposed. They scrounged up their savings, bought plane tickets, and went.
At these conferences, Mike and Andy put forth some outrageous proposals, such as recycling hamburgers in the third-world , encouraging democracies to adopt a free market model by selling votes, and introducing an “employee visualization appendage” (represented by a “three-foot-long-golden phallus”). But the real story is the reaction they got. For example, after the phallus presentation:
the audience rewards Andy with a healthy round of applause, but no questions. A reporter takes photos. As they wander around all that day, Mike and Andy come up again and again against a blank wall, until finally they find one woman who admits being terribly offended by Andy’s Appendage–because women can be factory managers too.
There’s a movie about all of this–it’s called The Yes Men, and it’s showing at the Sundance Film Festival. This could be a great documentary, even though it has a lot of potential to be unbalanced and preachy (Bowling for Columbine, anyone?). I hope the film emphasizes the satire and irony of Mike and Andy’s hijinks and allows audiences to draw their own conclusions.