If my blog is the first you’ve heard of Kony 2012, you must not be a teenager or have one in your home. A tweet from my niece Sophie on Tuesday alerted met to this video which has gone viral over the course of this week.
Kony 2012 is a film and campaign by San Diego-based non-profit Invisible Children which aims to make Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony famous [infamous, actually] and to rally support to take him out by year’s end. Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army have been kidnapping children in Uganda for child soldiers and sex slaves for three decades.
Invisible Children launched this 30-minute film on vimeo one week ago today. According to an article in the LA Times, on that first day it had 20 views. It has been on YouTube since Monday. When I last checked, the views were over 55,000,000!
Invisible Children advocates for US military involvement to make Kony’s capture possible. Viewers are asked to spread the video through the social media, commit to a monthly $15 donation to purchase an action kit, and to spend the night of April 20 blanketing their city with Kony 2012 posters.
The film and Invisible Children have garnered criticism as well as praise. Visible Children, a tumblr site, with the tagline “Kony 2012, viewed critically,” has been viewed over 2 million times. There are some dissenting African voices accusing the group of intervening where it does not belong, and of actually thwarting ongoing efforts to capture Kony. Others have criticized the group for its spending practices; it has a mediocre rating at Charity Navigator. Invisible Children refutes the criticism on their own site.
Every news outlet has covered this story during the course of the week. One of the most recent is CNN’s summary of Kony’s rise to power.
I am not about to pass judgment on this phenomenon. I will, however, share a few thoughts.
Kony 2012 has certainly succeeded in shedding light on a terrible situation about which most of the world has been ignorant for decades. Am I uneasy about its call for military intervention? Yes. Am I going to buy a kit and poster my block? Probably not. Will I contact my senator and representative about Kony 2012? Most likely.
Do I appreciate the power of social media in the hands of those who know how to use it? Definitely.