I took my time to watch the Kony 2012 video that went viral, partly because I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon of the movement’s supporters immediately without an educated decision, partly because of the polarizing views I had read of the video. And lastly because of the bandwidth, which I don’t have, that I’ll be investing in watching the movie.
Now, a few hours after watching the 30 minutes long video, I think I am in a position to judge it. And for that purpose, I will categorize my response to four main parts.
1 – The Non-Supporters:
Those who didn’t support the movement portrayed by the movie used arguments such as “what now?” and “what’s the point?” or “we don’t see a credible plan of movement.” And they have every right to their questioning. But allow me to ask the following. A few days ago, how many of you had heard of Joseph Kony (or Uganda for that matter)? How many of you had known on Monday what the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was doing and how many children it had abducted for its plans?
So for all matters and purposes, the Kony 2012 video’s main purpose is education. It is to let as many people know about the injustice going on in that part of the world. It definitely comes off as preachy. It’s very difficult to come off as neutral in such circumstances. Sure there are worse “bad guys” out there that need to be highlighted. But having worse bad rulers or military men out there does not render what this video has done irrelevant. You can complain about the rulers of other countries. It doesn’t mean you need to bash this movie to do so. Sure this is definitely helped by the celebrity momentum it’s been getting. But when the frenzy subsides, you’re still left with millions of people who know what Joseph Kony has done and is doing. And that’s the plan: get as many people involved in order to get somewhere. In the age of the internet, that’s a credible plan.
2 – The Supporters:
On the other hand, you have the absolute majority of people who basically threw their support behind the Kony 2012 movement by sharing the video, buying the advertised kit and helping in spreading the word. Over 60 million people have watched the video, a testament to how strong the momentum behind the movie has become. However, when it comes to these supporters, many believe the movement stops at that: sharing the video and posting a Facebook status. How many of those 60 million people will actually rush to the streets of their cities on April 20th to hang the Kony 2012 posters? How many of those 60 million people consider themselves now “activists” in a cause they may not really fully understand?
The internet has made it way easier for many people to be involved in such movements. But on the other hand, the internet has also made the supporters of such movements sedentary in their support: merely a form of passive spoon-feeding of information, which is passively passed on with near minimal understanding or tangible involvement of the cause at hand.
What the supporters also need to know is that the compassion they are feeling for the children of Uganda needs to be passed on as well to places where even worse injustice is taking place. If more people are aware of the killings in Syria, Myanmar or any other country in the world, then Kony 2012 has achieved yet another milestone: to increase the scope of awareness of people.
3 – The Conspiracy Theorists:
Many people are widely skeptical about Kony 2012 not because of its meaning and message but because of what it’s advocating: an American military involvement in Uganda. Why so? Because Uganda recently became an oil producer. However, what the movie is advocating is not really direct US military involvement in Uganda – it’s asking for more US political awareness for the children in that country and, possibly, more involvement in the political processes taking place there in hope for the capture of Joseph Kony.
The Obama administration has also not authorized direct military involvement of the personnel it sent to Uganda. And at this point of the presidential campaign, I highly doubt Obama would ruin the economical improvements he has been working for more than three years on just to please a movement that will, eventually, tone down to regular non-frenzy levels.
4 – The Reality:
When it comes to Kony 2012, you cannot but care about the matter at hand. If you don’t, then you simply lack compassion. However, the whole affair is not exactly very peachy. The organization responsible for the movie, Invisible Children, doesn’t allow its finances to be audited. Therefore, you cannot know where your donations are actually going. However, approximations have it that only 31% of the donations Invisible Children receives actually go into helping out the children of Uganda. The rest goes into movie making, the travel expenses of its personnel and whatnot.
Moreover, when it comes to Uganda, the LRA has been rendered inactive since 2006 and the Ugandan army has been slowly taking over in parts of the country where the LRA was in control. However, that doesn’t mean the Ugandan army is much better. In fact, reports have shown that the army has been using rape as a weapon in its fights. Besides, Yoweri Museveni, the current Ugandan president, has abolished limits on presidential terms. He has been serving as Ugandan president since 1986. He’s accused of democracy oppression. Invisible Children supports his regime.
Finally, one interesting thing to note is that the LRA is to Christianity as Al Qaeda is to Islam – both are extremist religious groups, led by men who have no understanding of the scripture they follow. The difference between LRA and Al Qaeda is that the latter is seen as international terrorism and the former is seen as a Ugandan affair. What they have in common, on the other hand, is that the killing of Joseph Kony will do as much harm to the LRA as the death of Osama Bin Laden did to Al Qaeda.
But regardless, oppressors need to be stopped on the hope that maybe tomorrow the world for the visible children of Uganda and the world becomes safer.
Watch the Kony 2012 video here: