The Yes Men: Culture Jammers Extraordinaire

The Yes Men are Revolting

Directed by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos (2014)

Film Review

Culture Jamming (def) – a tactic used by anticorporate social movements to expose corporate “methods of domination” by disrupting or subverting corporate media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions.

The Yes Men are Revolting is the third full length documentary by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (aka Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos). The Yes Men’s goal is to use satire and humor to underscore the total insanity of our present corporate-run society. For the first time, the 2014 film includes biographical material and frank discussion of Andy and Mike’s episodic despair over the difficulty of producing real change.

Most of their work relies on their elaborate impersonations of corporate oligarchs and government bureaucrats to portray the world as they believe it should be. The official and media reactions to the improbable causes their alter egos espouse are eye wateringly funny.

Among my favorites:

  •  The one in which they impersonate a Chamber of Commerce (official oil industry lobby) at the National Press Club calling for a carbon tax.
  • Their campaign to liberate Barbie and Ken from oppressive gender stereotypes.
  • The time they impersonate Shell Oil officials and throw a lavish party to celebrate the immense profit potential of melting Arctic Sea ice.
  • The time they pose as Gazprom officials presenting a kidnapped polar bear to the Amsterdam zoo.* This was after the US government revoked Shell’s Arctic drilling permit and the company partnered with Gazprom intending to drill the Russian side of the Arctic Circle.
  • The Brokers and Police March they organized during Occupy Wall Street.
  • Their promotion of a special NYPD program in which black males receive a free McDonald’s Happy Meal after their third stop and frisk.

The documentary climaxes with their best and most outrageous prank. First they they reserve a spot on behalf of General Colin Powell’s office at a Homeland Security conference. Then they impersonate a Department of Energy spokesperson and propose to replace all fossil fuels with solar panels and wind turbines to be owned and operated by Native American reservations. The segment culminates with all the defense contractors circling the room in a traditional indigenous dance.


* Amsterdam is home to the corporate offices of Royal Dutch Shell.

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I must admit to being totally addicted to the Yes Men. Here are their earlier films if you haven’t seen them:

The Yes Men (2003)

The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)

What Would Jesus Buy?

reverend billy

photo credit: wikipedia

What Would Jesus Buy?

By Robert van Alkemade (2007)

Film Review

What Would Jesus Buy? is a documentary highlighting the crass commercialization of Christmas in western society. Its main focus is the 2006 Christmas tour of Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir. Reverend Billy is one of the culture jamming performance activists featured in the 2001 movie Culture Jam: Hijacking Commercial Culture.*

What Would Jesus Buy? intersperses scenes from the tour with grisly photos of frenzied Black Friday stampedes and interviews with avid consumers as they indulge their compulsive need to shop.

High points include the attempt by Reverend Billy and the Choir to “exorcise” the Walmart home office, their visit to Mall of America in Minnesota (the largest shopping mall in the world) and their appearance at Disneyland on Christmas day. Disney managers (who are world-renowned for their viciousness) had Reverend Billy arrested, and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir held an overnight vigil outside the Anaheim jail.

Reverend Billy’s website is http://www.revbilly.com/

In October he and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir will open for Neil Young for his tour of the Pacific Northwest.


*Culture jamming is a tactic used by anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including (but not limited to) corporate advertising. The term is credited to Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters magazine  and author of the 1999 book Culture Jam: the Uncooling of America.