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5 Acts of Creative Disruption

Videos: From mic checks in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to flash mobs at Target, expressing dissent has never been more colorful.
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This article accompanies 9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule, the Spring 2012 issue of YES! Magazine.
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The shadow of corporate domination has never felt so powerful—but neither has the ingenuity of resistance. Here are five ways everyday people have brought national attention to some of our biggest corporate calamities.

1. Mic Check for Health Care

mic check by lorraine murphy

Photo by Lorraine Murphy

In the spirit of the Occupy movement, protesters "mic checked" Scott Serota, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

They stated that Serota was an "example of the one percent in the health care industry who ... influence the health bill to create more profit for health insurers at the expense of human suffering and preventable death."

Reading from a prepared script, the lead was passed from one protester to another when the original speaker was escorted peacefully from the room.

2. Billboard Improvement for AT&T and the NSA

In 2008, the Billboard Liberation Front, a San Francisco group responsible for defacing—or, in their words, improving—corporate messages on billboards, took on AT&T and the National Security Agency. The "improvement action" shown here was designed to "celebrate" and highlight the partnership of the two organizations.

"This campaign is an extraordinary rendition of a public-private partnership," BLF spokesperson Blank DeCoverly announced in a facetious press release. "These two titans of telecom have a long and intimate relationship, dating back to the age of the telegraph. In these dark days of Terrorism, that should be a comfort to every law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide."


3. Occupy Black Friday

While some people were wrestling with—or pepper-spraying—each other over video games on the most chaotic shopping day of the year, Occupiers held a mic check protest at a San Diego Walmart.

"Citizens of Walmart!" the call and response began. "In the spirit of holiday giving, we believe a discussion is in order about the meaning of value and low cost." They went on to talk about low wages, deliberate understaffing, worker mistreatment, and how "every sweet deal" represented jobs being moved overseas. Then they left with a smile.

4. Target Ain't People

When Target spent $150,000 to support a Minnesota politician who favors anti-gay legislation, thousands of people decided to boycott the big-box chain. But instead of simply shopping elsewhere, these activists turned to the popular musical-style TV show, GLEE, for inspiration. With choreography, a catchy tune, and Target accessories as props, they took shoppers and employees by surprise.

5. MyHairCares

To draw attention to the destructive practices of Enbridge, the oil company responsible for the 2010 spill in Michigan, pranksters The Yes Men—Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum—coordinated a campaign called "MyHairCares": In the name of the company, they requested that salons send in discarded hair to be used as an oil sponge.

Want more? Subscribe to YES! Magazine, starting with the Spring 2012 issue, 9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule.

Ayla Harbin and Christa Hillstrom compiled this collection for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions for a just and sustainable world. Ayla is a web intern and Christa is web managing editor at YES!


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