“Climate change is a fact. We have to do something about it”, says Laura Nix, Director of The Yes Men Are Revolting. In their third documentary, the New York-based activists Andy Bichlbaum und Mike Bonnano are taking risky and sometimes absurd actions in order to point out the dramatic consequences of climate change. At a self-organized press conference they impersonated as representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and announced a radical change of climate policy in the U.S.. They even pleaded for the introduction of a carbon emission tax.
At the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the activists announced in the name of the state of Canada that they are talking responsibility for the disastrous ramifications of the national quarrying of oil sand and are going to compensate the damamages. Although The Yes Men are already well-known, they still manage to surprise big companies and organizations. “We work with people like Benadette Chandia Kodili”, explains Mike Bonnano. "For the action that we did in Copenhagen in 2009, she was impersonating a government minister. Nobody recognized that she wasn’t.”
In The Yes Men Are Revolting, the activists pretented to be Shell reps and presented an absurd campaign about the planned oil dilling in the arctis which exaggerated their unconscionable greed for profit very cynically– but nevertheless it was appreciated by the attendees. Meanwhile, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Organizations such as Greenpeace are fearing accidents and a dramatic oil pollution with catastrophic consequences for the arctic wildlife. Before their film opened in the U.S., The Yes Men protested against Shell’s Oil Drilling. On a hot summer day in New York City, they dressed in Shell outfits and were standing in the street to hand out snow cones from "Last Icebergs of North Pole" .
The two New York-based professors were also confronted with a law suit from the Chamber of Commerce. But in the end, the case war dropped after four years. “They didn’t want more attention on it”, emphasizes Andy Bichlbaum. “A new judge came in and decided that was an interesting case and made it move forward. And that was when the Chamber dropped it because actually they were just trying to scare us.” For The Yes Men and other activitists it would have been interesting when the Chamber of Commerce would have revealed to funds in the discovery process. “It is very hard to find out who actually funds the chamber”, underlines Laura Nix. “They do not want that information out in the world and it would become public knowledge. In the end they realized, even if they won they would lose.”
“You have to look beyond the now-risk”, says Benadette Chandia Kodili. “From all the actions The Yes Men are doing, you would think by now they have 1,010 law suits somewhere waiting for them.” But there is none. “If you always think about what you are allowed to do, you get paralyzed”, underlines Andy Bichlbaum. “So we don’t always think about what we are allowed to do by the authorities. We do what we want a s long as we have a good reason and we know that we don’t mess everything up by doing it.” But if necessary, they are taking legal advise. “Since we had this lawsuit with the chamber, we are represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation which is an NGO in the U.S. that does amazing work”, sums up Mike Bonnano. “It has represented further case law around free speech and copyright issues many years now.”