Reggie Watts was going to die anyway. He figured he might as well illuminate some couple’s first date.
“I think I’d like to be a candle,” he said.
So a spokesman from The National Petroleum Council doled out candles at an energy conference to pay tribute to the former Exxon janitor and victim of climate change. The candles were lit and oozed a fleshy scent. Then the other spokesman explained that the candles were made of Reggie.
But these spokesmen, and Reggie, were impostors. It was nothing more than an elaborate hoax from The Yes Men.
Films For Action screened the documentary “The Yes Men Fix The World” Monday night at Liberty Hall Cinema, 644 Massachusetts St.
Films for Action is a Lawrence-based non-profit organization, founded in 2006, that aims to expose important topics that most mainstream media outlets avoid.
“If it’s not reported,” said Tim Hjersted, project director, “it’s like it didn’t exist.”
The organization brings light to often-untouched subjects by screening activist films at the Lawrence Public Library, the Solidarity Center, Ecumenical Christian Ministries and Liberty Hall Cinema. It offers an extensive website that features 42 genres of 700 films, news stories, a calendar of events, a directory of nearby activist groups and a blog looking for more writers. Films For Action also offers an extensive lending library of more than 100 hand-picked films.
Hjersted said that one of the biggest problems with mainstream media is not the lack of subject exposure, but rather the way details are presented. He said that crime statistics don’t engage an audience.
“People think politics is a spectator sport,” Hjersted said.
The Yes Men veer far away from the sidelines. Their documentary displays a duo’s several attempts to sway the opinion of corporations and the public. Sometimes that means posing as a spokesman for the Dow Chemical Company and accepting full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster before 30 million BBC viewers. Other times it means riding the Tube in London in cheap suits and bringing along a gilded skeleton.
In the Dow hoax, the Yes Men provided false hope to residents of Bhopal after stating that $12 billion in reparations were on the way. The pranksters were immediately challenged by news outlets and accused of telling a cruel lie to those in need.
At the end of the film, the Yes Men and others produced a fake New York Times newspaper with “All the news we hope to print.” The cover story: Iraq war is over. Also featured was the repealing of the Patriot Act and several other leftist dreams.
Opposition argued that these examples of false hope were unjust and counterproductive. The Yes Men, the people they visited in Bhopal and blissful readers of the fake newspaper argued that their movement was positive because their ideas, real or fake, were spreading. This awareness, unlike a well-formed speech by a man in a suit, is their first step to real change.
-Edited by Dave Boyd