Donning a New Persona: The “Yes Men” in Action

Students were given an exclusive opportunity to attend a screening of the movie The Yes Men are Revolting and to ask director Laura Nix questions about its filming on Oct. 6 at the Benson Auditorium at Pitzer College. This documentary chronicles the zenith of the careers of two environmental and social activists, Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, whose main aim is to expose the truth through a series of mistaken identities and hijinks. By using lies and falsities, the Yes Men help expose the truth that is often misrepresented to the public by big industries and corporations.

This documentary not only focuses on environmental concerns including climate change but also on the trials and tribulations that occur in the activists' personal lives. Sometimes an individual can get lost in the issue they are working to solve. This documentary included commentary from the Yes Men on how the pursuit for hidden truths has affected their home lives. From dissolved relationships to moving abroad to Scotland, the documentary alluded to the fact that if one truly immerses themself in these social battles, it will come to influence every aspect of their life. These two men sacrificed a great deal to fight for issues they believe in and to help usher in a new era, one that is both socially and environmentally conscious. 

During the documentary, the Yes Men traveled to Uganda and met up with environmental activists who were concerned about the 'carbon debt' being accumulated in their country. European nations as well the United States and Canada emit enormous amounts of waste and pollution every day, but it is the citizens of smaller, poorer countries that receive the brunt of this wastefulness. In the documentary they teamed up with Ugandan and Canadian activists to pose as delegates from Canada and Uganda. Their stunt received such a harsh response from the Canadian government that these issues were brought to the table.

The documentary also exposed the uncertainty and despair that can arise for activists. Sometimes it can seem like the work one is doing isn’t making a difference. Even well-known activists like Jacques and Igor experienced this at times. However, as stated in the documentary, they realized that social activism isn’t confined to one location. It will rise and fall, but it will always arise again more widespread than before. 

Attending this pre-screening was a chance for students to understand what it truly means to be an activist, both the highs and the lows. Opportunities for students to engage candidly with activists don’t occur everywhere. The plethora of opportunities in college to engage with leaders, activists and field experts is astounding. To the Yes Men documentary as well as their coming to campus, all one can say is, “Yes! Please!”

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