Left-wing activism is not always politically correct nattering nabobs of negativity hectoring people about cigarettes and cheeseburgers. There've been notable troublemakers throughout history who use humor and psychology in the pursuit of justice for all. Guy Debord and the Situationists and Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies created situations (hence the former group's name) that bewitched imaginations, from Debord's detournement (the alteration of art or advertising to subvert the original message) or Abbie's happenings (throwing money on the floor of the Stock Exchange or levitating the Pentagon). The current champs of culture jamming are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, also known as The Yes Men. Their pranks have included a fraudulent public relations stunt in which the World Trade Organization announced it was voluntarily dissolving and reconstituting to help the hundreds of millions of poor people it'd previously been screwing. Another caper produced an ersatz (but perfectly realistic) issue of The New York Times in 2008 that reported the end of the war in Iraq (the issue was dated 2009, but you may have noticed that the president's proclamations notwithstanding, the war continues in 2010). The Yes Men will tell their amazing tale tonight with a multimedia presentation, prank props and unreleased footage from their adventures in the pranktivist racket.
Thu., Oct. 14, 8 p.m., 2010