I chose activity #3 of the Yes Men Fix the World Teaching Guide , interpreting the option of taking on the subject of corporate social responsibility to make a TV ad about FEMA, entitled “Duets.” It is an alternate history of sorts, creating a scenario involving Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Government and the then President of the United States (George W. Bush). The goal was to generate a sacharrine TV spot in the manner of melodramatic, sentimentalist commercials one sees so often today (e.g. Dow "Human Element" Ad Campaign). By showing what might have happened had our government responded as it should have to Katrina, the perception of their utter failure is heightened.
The TV spot features many generic techniques that are very popular with modern ad agencies--time-lapse shots of nature, personal sentiment (between a corporate entity and the viewer), still image transforms (so-called “Ken Burns Effect”) and the use of famous Opera arias that are present in poor or inaccurate context.
The inspiration for the subject matter is directly related to the disgust I felt when I was able to reflect on how poorly the Federal Government handled Katrina relief, how FEMA mismanaged resources and “lost” billions of dollars and how the disparity in natural disaster relief seems to point to bigoted ideology in the Federal Government. In hindsight, it is apparent that the funds and resources were present, but the government would not or could not help the people affected by Katrina. With this project I wanted to both show what could have been and what should have been--that a strong, centralized government in the form of a Republic should be able to quickly and effectively respond to these types of situations using funds taken those that are affected via taxes, etc.
View FEMA "Duets"