The Yes Men are a growing conspiracy of culture-jamming activists who use subversive techniques to embarrass greedy corporations and governments for working against the public good. They’ve impersonated (and humiliated) some of the world’s most powerful entities. They’ve been called “The Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation” by Naomi Klein, and released three (soon four) award-winning documentaries about their hijinks. These days, they spend most of their time helping activists think up creative ways to make change.
In the Cabinet of Economic Curiosities the public will be able to consult two real false newspapers distributed by The Yes Men.
On November 12th, 2008, in the streets of New York they circulated a hundred thousand copies of a fake issue of the New York Times with the headline “Iraq War Ends”
A week after the historic presidential election that brought Barack Obama to the White House, the Yes Men have been joined by hundreds of freelance writers, artists and activists on a six-month-long plan to publish and distribute a “special edition” of the New York Times to cities across the United States. The newspapers, dated July 4th of the following year, were headlined with the long-awaited news: “IRAQ WAR ENDS.” The edition, which looks and feels the same as the original, includes stories about what the future may hold for us if we force Obama to deliver on the promises he promised when he was elected: national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum salary for CEOs, and the end of the war in Iraq.
In May 2019, The Yes Men distributed a special edition of the Washington Post titled “Trump is over”:
Early this morning, thousands of Washington, DC commuters received a freshly pressed edition of the Washington Post. But it was dated May 1st, 2019 – and instead of the Journal’s usual slogan, “Democracy dies in darkness,” the phrase “Democracy awakens in action” appeared at the top. The newspapers’ headline read: “Without President: Trump Hurriedly Leaves White House. Crisis Ends.”
A preview from the newspaper’s front page offers a compelling story about Trump’s departure, won by popular multiracial female-led resistance. Their successful strategy is borrowed from other movements against authoritarian rulers: targeting those who support the tyrant, rather than the tyrant himself. The newspaper then deploys the resolution of the numerous crises ravaging the United States under the Trump mandate.