After around 50 million hits within a week as seemingly every 21st century kid on the planet had seen and shared a 30-minute film titled Kony 2012 via social network platforms, the mainstream media and the over-25s where forced to catch up. At work the youngest member of our team asked if had seen Kony. I was assuming she was talking about a show on television. When I googled the name it became evident that Kony is a Ugandan rebel leader and war criminal who commits atrocities like kidnapping kids to be child soldiers and sex slaves. Youngest Colleague then came with a link to the video she told me I should see. As I caught up with this phenomenon people were already queuing up to air their criticism of the film and the campaign as they consider the film inaccurate and the campaign simplistic. I wouldn’t say the film is inaccurate per se. You could argue though that the message has been simplified and some of the portrayed facts are outdated.
The 30 minute film is made by Jason Russell who co-founded the not-for-profit organisation Invisible Children.This organisation is campaigning for the capture of the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The material is quite powerful and even more empowering. In a time when information is instantly available and the average person has a short attention span when it comes to consuming information, especially on the internet, it is an achievement in itself that a 30 minuted video, considerably longer than the average you tube clip, has been able to capture such a mass audience. Jason Russell has demonstrated the incredible power of the masses brought together for one cause via social media. Due to the involvement of celebrities, who all have a mass following on different platforms, the campaign widens it reach. Invisible Children has been very clever using the idea of celebrity culture on a bad guy; No one knows who Kony is. If he is made famous then that will change.
With technology developing faster than ever before it’s the kids, who’ve never known a life without internet, mobile phones and instant access to pretty much anything, who are educating the older generations.
Russell is by no means the first film maker reporting on Kony and the civil conflict in Uganda. He sure is the first to get the message across on such a large scale. You could argue that in order to deliver a strong message one can’t be too nuanced in one’s report and some issues need to be simplified. After the message is out it’s up to people to do their own research and make up their own mind.
The world will always be full of dreamers, people who take action to fulfil their dreams and people who are critical of whatever people do or don’t do. Jason Russell and his organisation have accomplished something on such a mass scale any corporation or public entity can only dream of. It also teaches younger and older kids that they can make a difference. Feel empowered, go after the bad guys and do make up your own mind. The message might me simplistic, it’s valid nevertheless.
top image: hypebeast.com