Over the past few weeks, a video from the group ‘Invisible Childeren’ titled KONY 2012 has been getting mass attention from both the media and the public. Currently, it’s view count on both Vimeo and Youtube combined racks in at over 80 million has has received so many comments that the option to do so has had to be removed. Media coverage as been widespread with national press around the world such as the BBC, ITV and CNN running stories on the campaign.
But what actually is the campaign? Well it’s a simple call to take action. Make Joseph Kony and his resistance army so famous so that he will be caught. This will in turn end the forced kidnapping of children into his ever growing army, girls forced into sex slavery and people being murdered. The campaign is also linked with the International Criminal Court who are seeking to prosecute Kony for crimes against humanity. By increasing the attention of Kony’s actions, it drum’s up support from the general public in the form of several campaign’s such as ‘Paint the Night’ or by buying the ‘action kit’. Then as it increases further, Invisible children lead you to believe that the U.S government will keep up their support of the campaign by keeping the troops they have stationed in Africa since October 2011 there or by increasing the amount of bodies available. But is that really so? The video does contradict itself in regards to this issue. They openly admit that if the U.S get’s nothing from taking action, then they see it as a non-issue. You only have to look at the likes of the war on terror to see America’s stance on world issues. I don’t think for 1 second that the USA would be involved in the middle east conflicts unless they believed that dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden were involved in the 9/11 attacks. And don’t even get me started on how wealthy these middle east countries could make the US economy via it’s copious amounts of raw materials. I can’t see what America can get from stopping Kony. Ok, they may get a warm round of applause from the International Criminal Court and the public, but it’s doesn’t give them anything in return, and I’m sure they won’t be asking for Africa apparent lack of support in the future.
Jason Russell is the man in control of the ‘documentary’. I don’t personally class it in this genre, I see it more as a motivational speech. His voice is the one you hear throughout the campaign video given his main reasons to stop the LRA from taking anymore children. He attempts to play at the heart-strings of viewers. After all, every campaign needs a “sob-story” and this is no exception. Russell gives us his inspiration for the campaign by introducing us to Jacob Acaye, a local Ugandan boy he met in 2003 who is a survivor of the army attacks but who has seen his family and friends die. By highlighting us Jacob’s wish “to die”, the audience immediately feels aggrieved with his plight. Russell also use his son, Gavin to hit home the point of what Kony is achieving. He uses Gavin in a Q&A session which I find by distressing and insulting. This child is only about 6 years old, and to have him respond to questions such as “What he thinks about Kony?” is condescending. Because the majority of people find this child cute (and he is….) they will take his side of the story. That majority who are watching this video are old enough to have a coherent opinion, so let them have one, don’t brainwash them into thinking what you want them to think. Russell does this throughout the film. He often refers to “we” or “us” making you believe that you are already in this campaign. The statement he makes “If we succeed, we change the course of human history” just bugs the hell out of me. It’s used to give the viewer that sense of belonging, and you can’t really belong to a campaign like this until you know all the facts.
So back to the KONY 2012 campaign video itself. When watching it for the 2nd time, I couldn’t help notice a resemblance in it’s propaganda to a film I watched in my A Level media class by Leni Riefenstahl called Triumph des Willens. If you are unfamiliar with this film, it tells the story of the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, Germany which was attended by more than 500,000 supporters of the Nazi’s. It highlight’s speeches made by the leaders such as Adolf Hitler and it’s main aim is to get people to believe ‘in the return of Germany as a great power’, with ‘Hitler as the True German Leader who will bring glory to the nation’. I think this is exactly what the KONY 2012 video is trying to achieve. It’s trying to make people that what is happening here is wrong, and it’s the only side of the story they are telling. Simple but effective propaganda which is taking effect with the amount of talk of the campaign so openly.
The campaign relies heavily on social media use. It suggests that power has changed, with these new forms of media helping shift power back to the masses. That is simply not true. Governments and world leaders still hold that power and no amount of pressure will make them change their mind completely, just look at the UK student protests. The video features several Facebook sequences by using timeline, video posts, and likes. This is so the viewer feels some kind of belonging. They immediately know what is being show and feel ‘at home’. These power change suggestions rely heavily on Facebooks “750 million users”, but what percentage of them actually give a damn about the campaign?
Before this campaign and video went viral, I will admit, I knew literally nothing about Joseph Kony and I can hazard a good guess that 99% of the viewers didn’t either. So why all of a sudden has there been a massive “jump of the bandwagon” culture. But I suppose that’s what makes a good campaign; to make people believe, act and think the way you do. I don’t think that these people actually understand the overall scale of this “problem”. Surely to stop Kony you will have to defeat his army, but his army is full of children. So does that mean that you have to kill the children, to save the children? The problem doesn’t stop here and I’m sure there are others doing criminal activities around the world. Are we going to spotlight them all? 1 man’s arrest doesn’t give us a solution, it gives us a problem. Is there going to be a campaign to stop every dictatorship in the world? Let’s be honest, the answer is no, and why? It’s implausible.
The campaign in my opinion has many flaws. It forgets to mention the enormous problems in Africa as a whole. As a whole, the poorest countries in the world are on the African continent. Basic needs such as food, clean water, and healthcare are not always available. Violence is an everyday sight for those who live in African countries there. Child soldiers are simply the norm for many groups of rebels and campaigns in the UK such as Comic Relief showcase that. This campaign simply brushes those thoughts aside. It’s the wrong thing to do. They should focus there efforts and donations on actually helping people like Jacob Acaye and not by making a video in the hope that the audience will be moved by it’s message. This hasn’t done Comic Relief any harm and that has increases in it’s donation fund’s year on year. They don’t do a “wallpapering” campaign to make a point. They make a point by helping with healthcare, schooling, jobs, create clean water supplies and farming utilities.
So after watching this video numerous times and writing this post, has my stance changed? No. In all honesty, I don’t care. My stance hasn’t changed in the 15 days this video has been out, and it won’t change if this type of campaign will be around in 15 years. Campaigns like this will never change how the world revolves. The hierarchy has the final say on all happenings and I suggest Mr Russell slows down his actions. Wristbands and posters don’t make any difference, this is not a head-boy school election process, a coherent plan needs to made for real change, and it’s ironic how a group who call themselves ‘Invisible Children’ have no real plan what-so-ever.
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