Today: Jul 16, 2024

The Kony controversy: help or hoax


We’re in America, and it’s easy to complain about things. Most of the time it’s about nothing substantial and can easily be fixed with a ride to the nearest restaurant or Apple store to get a new phone charger. The more I complain, I realize that my moans don’t hold any fire, as there are situations and places far worse than what we’ve ever experienced.

On Monday March 5, YouTube became introduced to Kony 2012, which is part of the Invisible Children organization. It’s a 30-minute documentary video and currently has over 37 million views. The objective of Jason Russell—the co-founder of Invisible Children and filmmaker of the video—is he’s trying to spread awareness about a man, Joseph Kony’s, evil actions.

Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army and is known in Uganda, as well as other areas in Africa, for kidnapping children. Kony would force the young females into being sex slaves and give the young males guns and train them for his military. Their first mission is to kill their family members.

One thing Russell is doing to gain immense support is taking advantage of the technological world. He had the right idea. What spreads faster than an angry Facebook or Twitter status or video about children being kidnapped?

The YouTube video followed Russell on a trip he took to Africa years ago and a young boy, Jacob, who he met when he was there. Jacob lost his brother because he was kidnapped by Kony forces. After hearing Jacob’s story, Russell promised he would help make life better for the children so they don’t have to live in constant fear.

There’s much controversy surfacing about the recent YouTube video, and one major issue that’s receiving backlash is the simplistic approach Kony 2012 took in filming it. If each step really was that easy, why has this problem been going on for the past 20 years and nothing has been fixed?

After viewing the YouTube video myself, I’m even uncertain of how the Invisible Children organization will achieve its goal. The filmmakers were successful in aiming it at people to make them feel guilty and to make them want to help. It had empowering music and children’s cries: that’ll probably get anyone to support it.

Russell wants to make Kony’s name famous and get the U.S. people involved and outraged. He wants to give away support packages that come free with donations, which have posters, bracelets and shirts in them. Then with enough support, eventually get the U.S. military leaders and Ugandan forces to use tracking devices and equipment to find this man. Sounds easy, right? Nope.

When has anything ever been that easy in America, let alone in Africa? Call me a pessimist, but in today’s culture I can see the Kony 2012 video not only becoming the new prominent issue, but also the next Occupy Movement—with no achievements.

To re-blog a picture or a post won’t help the U.S. military and Ugandan forces locate Kony. It might add to the thousands of people who are interested in Invisible Children and feel obligated to help the less fortunate. But I’m lost here. How does liking a Facebook status about the movement really help track Kony down? People aren’t donating money with each status they like or picture they post.

Invisible Children is receiving another negative reaction about this video that’s leading people to ask, how much are the organization’s profits really going to the people in Africa?

Visible Children, a blog made in reaction to Kony 2012, is reviewing the video with a critical eye. Its argument criticizes how the bulk of money that was raised for Invisible Children goes into filmmaking and promotion, rather than fundraising to help those in need.

Visible Children doesn’t want the real focus to be lost. The supporters of Visible Children want this to be about stopping Kony and ensuring his arrest. They believe the issue will be manipulated and the Kony 2012 video will just become a part of popular culture.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kony is a bad man and he should be stopped. I’m sure Russell and his campaign with Kony 2012 have good intentions and want to save the children. It’s just wild that what they want to have achieved can be just as easy as posting a YouTube video.

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