To Tell You the Truth....

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The Yes Men are now famous for excelling at the art of parasitic media. Led by two artists whose pseudonyms are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, they often work with numerous secret collaborators to pull-off interventions that expose corporate and governmental injustices--frequently revealing the fuzziness of the lines between the two. Following in the footsteps of their previous projects (concocted with fellow tactical media peers) under monikers that included RTMark, the Barbie Liberation Organization, and etoy, their grandly ambitious initiatives rely on the art of parody. Copying the source code of corrupt entities' websites and carefully adjusting the text and images to reveal embarrassing truths about their respective atrocities, the group has been able to successfully convince web surfers that they were agents of George W. Bush's first presidential campaign staff, the World Trade Organization, the US department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), ExxonMobil, Halliburton/KBR, and other groups. Perhaps their most successful coup was being invited to speak on behalf of Dow Chemical, on the BBC television news, prompting Dow to reply that they were not, in fact, taking responsibility for the disaster in Bhopal, as the Yes Men erroneously claimed. Such works make everyday, otherwise unspoken injustices front page news, and the group continues to succeed in pulling off what some dismiss as "pranks." Recently the Yes Men took a step that many of their subjects have been unable to take: They made a major apology. A representative of the trademark group at oil company and general environment-hurter BP recently emailed them to complain about the unauthorized site at http://www.theyesmen.org/agribusiness/beyondpetrol/ which bears "a remarkable similarity to the genuine www.bp.com website.... include[s] multiple reproductions of the BP logo," and possibly poses "a real risk... that genuine visitors could be confused and... diverted away from the genuine www.bp.com site." The complainant's email also took issue with the number of email addresses listed on the spoof page ending in "@beyondpetrol.com." As revealed in a recent message to their mailing list, the Yes Men promptly replied and explained that, in their eagerness to parody other entities, they'd accidentally forgotten to finish the BP site. Alas, their cordial apology stated, "We now understand that objectively, BP does every bit as much damage to this planet as does Exxon, Halliburton, or any other more obviously nefarious company, regardless of its carefully engineered professions of decency and concern. And we are ready today to prove our maturity, sincerity, and newfound intelligence by offering you a fully realized spoof of your own: http://beyond-petrol.com." The site embodies the Yes Men's knack for turning an organization's rhetoric and branding against itself, to lift the veil off their misdeeds. Visit the site today to learn more about what BP is doing "for" our planet, and bounce over to theyesmen.org to surf through more of the group's legendary hijinks. Just be sure you enter the correct URL. Emailing anyone associated with yesmen.com will trigger an auto-reply from the company's president that ironically states, "The Yes Men Corporation (www.yesmen.com) is a legitimate business, and owns the US Copyright for this name. We are not associated with the group of WTO pranksters who have stolen our name." - Marisa Olson

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