What do you make of this whole KONY 2012 situation? It has gone under major scrutiny in the media, as well as many African groups, that it either oversimplifies the situation, making it black and white, or misinforms with glaring factual errors, to being too late in informing the world of Kony.
Michael Debert writes in The Huffington Post:“By blindly supporting Uganda’s current government and its military adventures beyond its borders, as Invisible Children suggests that people do, Invisible Children is in fact guaranteeing that there will be more violence, not less, in Central Africa.
I have seen the well-meaning foreigners do plenty of damage before, so that is why people understanding the context and the history of the region is important before they blunder blindly forward to “help” a people they don’t understand.”
Then there’s Jason Russell, the director of the Kony 2012 video and one of the founders of NGO Invisible Children, with his recent psychotic episode in San Diego. Obviously, he was under some kind of intense pressure.
DHH: I haven’t followed this story particularly closely, but it does seem to fit the trope of the well-meaning but naive Westerner who goes into a world he understands only minimally, and gets in over his head. On the plus side, Russell drew a lot of the world’s attention to a situation which was being largely ignored in the public eye. But if he’s discredited, did he ultimately help the problem, or make things worse? Russell reminds me of the character Alden Pyle in Graham Greene’s novel (and subsequent movie adaptations of) THE QUIET AMERICAN.
JEROME: Not to be a fearmonger or anything, but Kony 2012 is a good example of how our shorthand ways of getting information can get us into trouble.In the animal kingdom, there are some mothers who only recognize their children by their scent. If one of its predators were to smell like them, they can very easily kill their prey. Their shortcut way of parsing information can get them killed – likewise, our means of obtaining and entertaining information can lead us astray.As Elaine touched upon, with a “good-looking, charismatic, white male,” attention to a cause may be more easily drawn. Similarly, a well-produced, serious video can influence millions of social media users to eat up every word pushed in it and start perpetuating said message.
JUSTIN: I’ve always wondered what happens if you can’t take the heat AND stay in the kitchen. Now I know.
PHILIP: Like some of my fellow Offenders, I do think there’s a lot that’s problematic with this, but I will say that it was pretty amazing how they were able to make the video go viral in the way that it did. It gives hope that the idea of creating a truly global online community that can quickly respond to a call to action is possible. This is actually one of the ideas we’re exploring with our upcoming YouTube channel as well so interesting to see. Now excuse me because I’m feeling exhausted so I think I’ll go run down the streets of Los Feliz naked.
SUNG: Jason Russell=Today’s Paul Reubens (PeeWee Herman)? I don’t know much about Uganda’s issues to comment with any sense. I can only say it’s unfortunate that the pain of so many is made a mockery of by one man’s love affair with his penis. Russell had the ears of so many and could’ve made a tremendous impact for the better. I don’t judge him for beating the skin flute, but it’s hard to take him seriously or want to shake his hand.
JEROME: What could get graphic after the image of testicles bouncing?
Here are the three things I know about Kony and Russell:
2. Jon Stewart says the mainstream media is jealous that Russell brought attention to Kony when their own earlier efforts didn’t.
3. I saw a clip of Russell running naked down a street in San Diego.
Was Osama Bin Laden famous… yes.
Was Saddam Hussein famous… yes.Are you glad that justice was served to these two… I said “yes”.
I learned about these two in the most sensational way by the media and in schools. My awareness was turned on and made me sad and infuriated, but at the time, I couldn’t do anything… BUT, at least I knew about them.
“KONY 2012″ is now here and already famous. And like Sam from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”, I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing this in front of my face. I did finally watch it on my own time… and I’m glad I did.
Long ago I worked on editing war crime videos from Croatia and I couldn’t stand it. Hours and hours of Croatian soldiers looting and killing had to be edited for courtroom use and I wanted to quit working on them, but I was the only editor in the company and would lose my job if I didn’t continue. At the end of two months… I was a different person.
Yes, KONY 2012 is in a nice package for digestibility. Yes, the awareness could cause more suffering. But the message has been delivered and I received it. Now it’s my move to understand and follow my heart and hopefully follow it up with action.
BEVERLY: I find it telling that although we may have different levels of understanding about KONY 2012, that we’ve all HEARD about it… So I see that this is more of a landmark of how lightning fast information (whether well reported or not) can travel. It makes me applaud my fellow humans because apparently we seem to care collectively about human rights that we are moved to act: and at the same time, I am concerned that ‘news’ media can come from anyone with a camera and an opinion.
EMMIE: I heard about the Lord’s Resistance Army years ago, and I don’t know enough about its current state, or the government in Uganda, to comment with any intelligence regarding their depiction in the KONY campaign. I admire anyone who takes action in order to help others, and I think the video and Russell’s well-meaning intent are inspiring. Regardless of how timely or late the video’s identification of Kony is, I think public awareness of these sorts of crimes and criminals is incredibly important. The LRA has done horrifying things. The naked incident is unfortunate since it puts a dent into Russell’s work, presumably by causing some of the campaign’s supporters to feel a bit conflicted. I wish the media wouldn’t jump on things like this (the naked video); it detracts from the big picture. Whether it’s this cause or another, there are issues in the world that need attention, and people who need help very badly.