Well-intended Kony 2012 campaign a dangerous ignorance for the U.S.
Good intentions, poor execution. This is the most basic definition of the KONY 2012 movement.
Like most Americans, I had no idea what KONY 2012 was until I woke up one morning and saw that Facebook was spammed with videos and statuses for change. It was not until recently that I decided to watch the thirty minute documentary on the issue, produced by the non-profit organization Invisible Children.
KONY 2012 is a movement to find and arrest Joseph Kony, who is considered to be the world’s worst war criminal. In 1987, Kony took over an existing rebel group and renamed it The Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony’s tactics for acquiring soldiers are horrifying. African children are abducted and forced into the LRA as soldiers or as sex slaves. They are then told to rape, mutilate and kill civilians, including their own parents.
The movement’s main event called “Cover The Night” is set for April 20. When the rest of the world goes to sleep, KONY 2012 advocates will spam the country with KONY 2012 posters and the like. The point of this is to raise awareness and get the rest of the United States involved in this mission. I am actually a little excited to see how this turns out. It could really go either way, boom or bust.
Co-founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell created the video to make Kony famous and raise awareness for his arrest in the year 2012. The video itself features Russell and his 3-year-old son. It was an inspirational film but I couldn’t help but feel that it was also misleading and oversimplified. Surely the task of arresting this man is not as easy as the video makes it out to be.
While the whole idea of global change through the youth of America sounds enticing, Invisible Children may have gone about it the wrong way. What Invisible Children did here was both good and bad, but I’m leaning a little more toward the bad side.
It is true that a cause needs awareness and momentum. Maybe I’m being a little cynical but I don’t think the target audience has the attention span for such a big issue. After all, the hype died down incredibly fast — 48 hours at most. The group effectively rallied the masses but it didn’t quite follow through. It’s easy to click a button on Facebook in support, but how many people are actually going to give it the financial support that it needs? And even if it does get financial support, how much of the money goes directly to the cause?
According to KONY2012.com, only 37 percent of the money raised goes toward Central Africa programs. The group claims to spend 80 percent of their profits on “the goal,” with a great portion of this money going towards awareness programs and products. Sadly, most of the money would go towards marketing techniques and ignorant videos that fail to accurately represent the real victims. The video itself is really not sad enough for what it is trying to portray. I think more people would be inspired to do something had the video focused on African children. Instead, the video showed a lot of white people who were portrayed as the heroes — the ones who, by spreading posters and bumper stickers, would set all the little African children free!
The Invisible Children KONY 2012 video did get people talking, however, Ugandans responded negatively to the video. According to CBCnews, they were outraged that there was hardly any talk of their suffering over the years. They were puzzled as to why Americans were wearing Kony’s face on T-shirts and buttons.
Now that we are aware of Joseph Kony and his army, it may be time to take a step back. On March 23, the African Union deployed 5,000 soldiers in search of Kony on top of our 100 soldiers. Everyone wants to do what they can to stop this cruel man, but we have to be mindful of the victims and stop taking so much responsibility for this cause. The KONY 2012 movement has upset a lot of people who now think we are ignorant to their hardships.
In the coming months, we will see how the rest of this movement plays out after the Cover The Night event. In the meantime, I highly suggest that supporters of KONY 2012 and Invisible Children educate themselves and donate directly to the African people instead of sending money back into the endless cycle of awareness. If you want to help, help the victims.