Yes Men visit campus

India Hunter and India Hunter

Students, faculty and community members gathered in Olscamp last night to be entertained by the Yes Men.

The two men, who go by the aliases “Andy Bichlbaum” and “Mike Bonanno,” impersonate leaders and corporations in order to increase people’s ignorance of important issues.

“This is our forum to be creative artists,” Bonanno said.

During the evening, the Yes Men showed the audience video clips of some of the events they set up.

The Yes Men use creative tactics such as creating fake Web sites and contacting the media about issues which then leads to a conference and other media coverage.

An example featured Bichlbaum posing as Dow Chemical representative speaking to a BBC World news anchor in response to the Bhopal catastrophe.

The Bhopal catastrophe, often referred to as one of the world’s worst industrial accidents, happened in India over twenty years ago when a union carbide plant leaked gas, injuring thousands.

During the BBC interview, “Jude” who was really Bichlbaum told the anchor that Dow Chemicals assumed complete responsibility for the tragedy and would compensate all victims affected.

When it was discovered to be a hoax, Bichlbaum expressed no regret for lying to the media.

“We do these things in order to show what’s wrong with the system,” he said.

Other events Bichlbaum and Bonanno have staged include speaking at a conference regarding alternative energy solutions by creating a “survivaball,” a costume the Yes Men misleadingly told people they could wear to protect themselves from the effects of climate change during natural disasters.

Hurricane Katrina also provided the Yes Men an opportunity to create a hoax, speaking to the media posing as representatives from the New Orleans Housing Authority. They told dislocated citizens a year following the hurricane that their housing was cleared to move back into when in actuality it was not.

Students such as Kacey McCreery and Kristin Rumman completely agree with the Yes Men’s tactics.

“I love the Yes Men, they are an inspiration to me on many levels to become more active about wrongdoings,” McCreery said.

Kristin Rumman, senior, agrees that the Yes Men are an important group to speak to college students and other people.

“I like how they use comedy and satire to reach more people to increase their attention on important issues,” Rumman said.

While many students last night appreciate the Yes Men’s satirical humor, they are not met without critics.

Both men stated that they have dealt with negative critics – including President Bush who stated that there should be “limits placed on their freedom of speech.”

They have also been called “cruel annihilists” by the media.

While this may be a stopping force for many people, Bichlbaum and Bonnano stated that they plan to continue their efforts to expose the many wrongdoings of this country and increase people’s awareness.