If you, like me, stepped into the whole Kony 2012 a little late and need to know what's going on, here's the whole thing in a nutshell:
A group called Invisible Children posted a 30-minute documentary on YouTube called Kony 2012 in order to make the world aware of the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is led by war criminal Joseph Kony who, thanks in part to the media very rarely covering his actions, has been doing some pretty awful stuff for the last couple of decades. Invisible Children want Kony stopped and brought to justice.
Here is the video:
The response to the video has been mixed. For example, Ugandans were not impressed:
Ugandans were angry that once again, the West had hijacked an African struggle; putting themselves at the front line of the fight against Kony and making it look like Uganda was sitting by idly as Kony murdered, abducted and raped. Many said the video had come too late, hinted at a neo-colonialist mentality where the white charity workers came off as the long-awaited saviour who finally came and stopped Kony.
Others, like Ugandan writer Rosebell Kagumire, feel that the video "sensationalizes" the issue and makes it all about "America saving us."
There is also some raging criticism as to where the money from the organization's action packs for Kony 2012 is going. Grant Oyston, a Canadian sociology student, had this to say in his blog Visible Children, which scrutinizes in detail the organization:
According to Jason Russell's appearance on the Today show several days ago, over 500,000 action kits have been ordered at $30 a piece, meaning this campaign has brought in a minimum of $15M in revenue this week. This is great news: at least 500,000 people are "advocate[s] of awesome" according to the group's webstore! So where's that money going? I'll leave it to Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children's Director of Ideology:
"Thirty-seven percent of our budget goes directly to central African-related programs, about 20 percent goes to salaries and overhead, and the remaining 43 percent goes to our awareness programs. [...] But aside from that, the truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don't intend to be. I think people think we're over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization."
Yes, you heard it from Invisible Children: more money goes to awareness than to Africa.
And Adam Branch from Al Jazeera is furious, because he thinks that the "hunt for Joseph Kony is the perfect excuse for US militarisation of oil-rich Uganda":
I have not watched the video. As someone who has worked in and done research on the war in northern Uganda for over a decade, much of it with a local human rights organisation based in Gulu, the Invisible Children organisation and their videos have infuriated me to no end - I remember one sleepless night after I watched their "Rough Cut" film for the first time with a group of students, after which I tried to explain to the audience what was wrong with the film while on stage with one of the filmmakers.
Lastly -- and probably not the least -- Julie Owono acknowledges that the video has indeed reached millions of people but "its message is simplistic and misleading."
The propaganda used by the organisation to "raise awareness" is highly questionable, and allows dangerous and misleading messages to be spread. One such message is that the African continent, and, in this specific case, the northern part of the Great Lakes region, is a playground where international law and respect of sovereignty have no place.
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I guess any publicity is good publicity?
"The star and director of the viral YouTube video Kony 2012 was suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration when he was arrested Thursday night for allegedly being drunk and masturbating in public, his charity says.
According to NBC and TMZ, Jason Russell, 33, was detained in Pacific Beach, Calif., at 11:30 a.m. for being drunk, publicly masturbating and vandalizing cars."
Hopefully not all at the same time.