Title page for ETD etd-04142005-174336

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Boyd, Lani
Author's Email Address laniboyd@gmail.com
URN etd-04142005-174336
Title The Yes Men and Activism in the Information Age
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Susan E. Ryan Committee Chair
H. Parrott Bacot Committee Member
Rod Parker Committee Member
  • hacktivism
  • activist art
  • globalization
  • parody
Date of Defense 2005-04-05
Availability unrestricted
Western history is filled with pranks and trickery intent on enlightening audiences by blending fiction with reality. The Yes Men, an Internet-based activist group, did just that, forging new ground and establishing themselves as political pranksters in a media-dominant global society. With an arsenal of parody, satire, interventions, and tactical obfuscation, the Yes Men attack those who they feel abuse their positions of power. They have impersonated public persons and infamous entities, including President George W. Bush, the World Trade Organization, and Dow Chemical. Their mimicry is so convincing that the audience cannot decipher between satire and the real thing. This thesis considers why the confusion happens, and to what extent the nature of simulation has hindered the Yes Men's message.

Igor Vamos and Jacques Servin, the creators of the Yes Men, are a pair of activist artists who have attempted to bridge the gap between art, activism and commerce. Vamos and Servin's works as the Yes Men are analyzed within the context of the corporate realm, where they enact their performances. This analysis puts forth the argument that, as Vamos and Servin evolved into the Yes Men, they have been successful in terms of publicity and self-promotion. The Yes Men, however, have been assimilated by the very corporate and societal structure they fight against, thus nullifying their intent.

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