Film Yes Men Fix the World, the Ethics of Protest and Bringing Issues to Light
1. What ethical/moral/philosophical constructs are the activists operating under with respect to their tactics in protest?
The Yes Men use Utilitarian Ethics of Duty and Rule Consequentialism. With this mindset, they carry on pranks and hoaxes to reveal the lies of large corporations and government. In the theory of Duty-Based Ethics, people do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. These large corporate giants do nothing but take the toll on others’ misfortunes. An example of Duty-Ethics can be seen when Andy impersonates Jude Finisterra, a spokesperson for Dow Chemicals, being interviewed on BBC regarding the Bhopal Legacy catastrophe of Union Carbide and its deadly gas leaks in India. He is quoted saying, “this is the first time in history that a publicly owned company, of anything near the size of Dow, has performed an action which is significantly against its bottom line, simply because it’s the right thing to do.” In theory of Rule Consequentialism, it states that an action is morally right just because it is required by an optimific social rule; relating back to Duty Ethics. With the motive under Rule Consequence, the Yes Men planned to set a course of actions which might trigger a reaction so that corporate giants and government may conform to such a social rule. As long as the outcome is of a happy ending for the public, Mike and Andy will have succeeded to change and affect society in ways that money could not. To correct an action which harms society more than benefits it, sometimes ridiculing and exposing the negative aspects of it might be the only course for corrective action.
2. Do the tactics distract from the message or lend power to the message? On what ethical grounds? In theory, such pranks and hoaxes are supposed to create change as a result from negative publicity. This derives from Kantian Ethics, which actually goes...
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