So, the #StopKony Invisible Children YouTube video has gone sufficiently viral to attract the attention of even the infotainment television shows, because SO MANY celebrities!!:
… In the film, Mr. Russell explains the social media strategy, which includes getting people to enlist celebrities on Twitter, including Oprah Winfrey and others with large followings, to help get out the word about the film and Mr. Kony. The group also specifically asked people who viewed the film to share it with their personal networks on social media platforms so that “Kony’s name is everywhere.”… Soon, celebrities from the film and music worlds, including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Diddy, Alec Baldwin and Olivia Wilde were joining in and posting links to the film on Facebook and Twitter. Many did so at the urging of their fans. And the hashtags #kony2012 #stopkony began to trend worldwide on Twitter….
Surely we can all agree (with Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber, not to mention the International Criminal Court)that Joseph Kony is a bad, bad man. The problem is, what “we” should do next. “We” — the U.S. government — has 100 military advisors in the area, and the Invisible Children producers say there should be more American Special Ops sharing better weapons with the Ugandan Army, even though Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army is mostly located in DRC or South Sudan these days. (Those of us who remember Vietnam, or even Iraq, have an immediate aversion to any political argument that starts “It’s just a handful of advisors, some overstock weapons, and nobody in that part of the world pays attention to national borders anyways”.) The Ugandan Army has a reputation for “politically motivated abuses” of its own. Also, the “billions of barrels of oil reserves” discovered in Uganda in the last few years have raised understandable suspicions about Westerners’ sudden interest in redeeming the country from itself.
But that’s why the Internet Is Awesome: It gives reporters the chance, not just to document the mechanics of “How the Koney Video Went Viral” or to explain its techniques, however cutting-edge:
…[T]he real pipeline to big numbers was the Kony 2012 website, which features “The Culturemakers,” a slick, visual chart of twenty celebrities, including Oprah, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates, Bono, and more. “When they speak, the world listens,” the website says. And to encourage them to speak, clicking on any of the celebs’ photos automatically crafts a tweet directed at the Culturemaker, complete with the Kony 2012 web address and two related hashtags. The interface is easy, it’s quick — messaging all twenty celebs would take less than two minutes — and most importantly, it allows anyone to feel like they’re making a difference.
It’s that an organization committed to genuine reporting — the Guardian, in this case — can institute an ongoing live-blog pulling together information from all over the world as it becomes available:
This Tumblr page is collecting criticism of the project and this blog sums up a lot of the questions.
This morning, Invisible Children issued a detailed response to the criticism here.
We want, with your help, to investigate this further. Our principle approach is to attempt to gather views from Uganda about whether this film is the right way to go about campaigning on the issue. I’m going to be working with John Vidal, our environment editor, who has travelled extensively in the region and is on the phone now to his contacts there.
Do you have any relevant information? Get in touch below the line, tweet #pollycurtis or email me at [email protected]…
I know just enough about the history of Central Africa to understand how much I don’t know. I’m grateful to live at a time in a place where better informed people (including those with much more at stake) are accessible with a few mouse-clicks.
(Footnote: Am I the only one here old enough to remember “buying pagan babies“? The annual campaigns were scheduled for Lent, when SAD and the failure to keep one’s personal New Years resolutions presumably conspired with religious guilt to remind all good parochial-school attendees of our obligations to the wider community. At our school, for every five dollars donated — an enormous commitment for a kid from a blue-collar family in the 1960s, so mostly each class pooled our sticky quarters and wrinkled singles — we got a beautiful certificate and the nominal right to choose a new baptismal name for “our” little orphan. I’m sure the donor foundation did just as much to alleviate Third-World suffering as the Komen Foundation does to cure breast cancer. Invisible Children’s glossy video brought back my memory of those certificates for the first time in decades, but that probably says more about my cynicism than it does about the video itself. )
Couldn’t make it more than 5 minutes into that video. What do that dude and his dumb kid have to do with Joseph Kony? The kind of stupid shit propaganda that works on people depresses me.
Chose to not subject myself to the video.
I will agree, however, that the whole human race would be better off with Koney out of the picture.
This guy must be a ghost or a wizard. Hundreds of people are actively looking for him and nobody can find him.
I’ve not subjected myself to the thing, but my teenaged daughters (natch) have been on it like white on rice. I was genuinely pissed to find out they had something going on it at school, and double-pissed to learn that the 17 year old dumped $25 from her debit card into it. Because I’m old, stupid and know absolutely nothing about anything, I’ll wait until the firestorm of criticism builds over the net to say “be careful about viral charities”.
@Linda Featheringill: They often send hundreds of people out into the wilderness looking for people who want to be found and it’s very difficult.
Outside is a very large place.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
I’ve always heard it as “save a pagan baby”. It’s a bit before my time, but my mom and her brothers and sisters (the lower end of thew sixteen kids, anyway, of whom mom is number eleven) remember it well.
It was in, iirc, National Lampoon, where the program was credited for saving the Notre Dame athletic program.
This is a really informative post.
i liked this.
i knew nothing about this until I saw this guy on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last nite. i was scratching my head because the guy was emphatic that they were not asking for money, they were just trying to raise awareness. so i’m thinking, well that’s a good thing, but then what?
apparently, they are taking in some money, however, and not spending it too wisely. i always check the Charity-meter thingie (forget what it’s called) which is what everyone should do before donating to a cause.
the internets require eternal vigiliance
There’s a TONY 2012 meme making the rounds on Facebook, about sending Tony Blair to the Hague, and not in his professional capacity. No video, yet.
What’s the story here? I heard something very confused about Kony from my father who told me that my younger brother thinks it’s important. He really didn’t know anything more. What exactly is going on here? I was told something about sending in more US military to resolve a problem.
I’m generally very hesitant about sending our troops in to ‘fix’ problems, but Libya for example has gone about as well as we could’ve hoped. And if Bono, the guy who hug-dodged Bush over the Iraq War, has offered his endorsement I’m going to guess it’s a good cause. Bono’s a smart guy who grasps foreign affairs a heck of a lot better than I do. Not my forte.
Anybody have any insight?
CBS is covering the video and the charity is stating that although only 3 million of 13 million has gone for aid they don’t feel that’s the best use of money. They feel the best use is to create awareness. Are they paying Susan Koman for advice?
@Elias: The Lord’s Resistance Army has been around for decades, raping, killing, enslaving. Bad, bad people. They are a real live, honest to god terror group, and the governments and the citizenry in the area would like nothing better than for us to get rid of them.
This is not a group that goes around building schools and helping the people ignored by the government. These are thugs.
Rush Limbaugh points to them as proof that Obama hates Christians and will murder them all if he can.
Thers little doubt that the Lord’s Resistance Army, of which Kony is the acknowledged leader, has a long track record of heinous atrocities against civilian populations in Uganda, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kony is a Bad Guy, and the world would be well rid of him.
What is less clear is whether the United States has any significant national interest that is served by getting our military, in any numbers, bogged down in hunting for this guy.
I remember “buying” pagan babies back in Catholic elementary school in the early 1960s. There was a ceramic bank that looked like an Ethiopian child with a bowl into which we’d drop our coins to make his head bob. When we got $5 together, we’d get a certificate and name our pagan baby, usually after a saint , preferably a saint with a funny or unusual name.
I know this makes us sound like mean little bastards, but we really thought we were doing good.
Okay. This is the guy that was responsible for Rush Limbaugh’s claim that Obama was persecuting Christians, by providing US military advisers to protect against his “Lord’s Resistance Army”.
Take this bastard out. The US has significant national interest enough just in sticking this in Rush’s face. The fact that we’re making the world a better place and convincing the young generation that Democrats care is just icing on the cake.
BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin has done some good coverage of the mess here and here.
I remember buying pagan babies but it wasn’t as constant a thing as sewing those little cloth circles to make some kind of doll. We sewed those circles day in and day out at recess, over lunch hour, before and after school. It was kind of fun and worked off a lot of nervous energy you have in the 6th grade. I never saw one of the dolls. We just sewed the circles and I guess the nuns sent them off to the diocese in Wheeling. I’ve often wondered what became of the literally thousands of those things we made.
The Invisible Children project strikes me as being Occupy LRA — well-meaning but simplistic and employing tactics of questionable effectiveness. I’ll hand it to IC for getting a lot of people talking about the issue. If their goal really is to make more people aware of the LRA’s atrocities, then, OWS-like, they’ve succeeded. But, as is the case with OWS, the question is, “What now?” Maybe it would behoove IC to make a follow-up video documenting all the boots-on-the-ground groups actually working in that region to stop the atrocities and help the victims, and where the effort currently stands.
Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods
Heck, key on Bynum and Gasol and you can win, even if Kobe gets his 28 points/night.
@Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods: #stopkobe – why you hate beef?
It’s funny that when Obama sent a handful of troops in, the far left was screaming “NO BLOOD FOR OIL“.
If it just takes one well produced facebook video to get the left over to where Obama was four months ago, then it’s a job well done.
Looks like my comment got eaten for too many links.
In October, the far left was screaming “NO BLOOD FOR OIL” and concocting conspiracy theories about why Obama sent troops. Pretty funny that they’re only just now beginning to come around to Obama’s position…
Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods
@Egg Berry: You calling me chicken?
Who is paying for this campaign? It’s worth asking. The “Save Darfur” thing was geting a big push from Christian wingers and pro-Israel hawks, as well as, I’m sure natural resource corps who thought they could get a better deal from the rebels.
I think the Occupy DRC comparison is a bad one, bc this is obvsly slick, centralized and well-funded.
i won’t take this seriously until ari fleisher is put in charge. besides aren’t all these people merely either blah or sluts?
I watched the whole damn thing. And YES (in answer to your unasked question, Ms Laurie), I do smell a rat.
Of course, this Joseph Kony, if what he’s accused of is true, is a horrific monster. But the vid is premised on his being the embodiment of Third World atrocities. Kony is presented as the Alpha and the Omega, both the sole symptom and the sole cause of the disease. This is the tacit assumption that underlies the entire project. And it’s just appalling—the idea that this cesspool, this breeding ground of societal sickness, which the rich Western imperialist-creditor states are more guilty than any other party of creating, is the fault of some single scapegoat, whom we can kill without reassessing our predatory creditor status at all, and without reassessing the whole global system that, incidentally, makes this prick filmmaker with a Valley Girl accent so affluent.
And then we, the affluent Westerners, are enticed with every trick in the Hollywood-MTV-Madison Avenue playbook to celebrate our natural hatred of Kony as epochal, world-cleansing Virtue. And we’re invited to do all these meaningless token feel-good things on April 20 or whatever to Take Back The Night, because that will make Africa perfect forever and then we can go back to Ann Arbor or Amherst or the Great White Northwest or wherever the fuck it is and get our latte on.
I’m not sure which is the most amazing – the power of social media to get millions of people all over the world talking about something in less than two days or realizing how many contrarians are out there, ever willing to criticize and show how discerning and skeptical they are about every-fucking-thing. It’s easy to criticize, folks. You just open your mouth and let words fall out.
My teenagers brought the video to my attention. First, my 13 year old daughter who sat beside me as i was watching it and wanted my advice afterward on how she can get involved. A few hours later, my 20 year old and his girlfriend asked me to watch it. I haven’t seen my kids this fired up about an issue in well, maybe ever. Not sure how raising awareness and inspiring people to get involved is such a bad thing. But I don’t need to demonstrate my superior intelligence by doubting everything either.
@merrinc: If you’d read the links, you’d know that the people behind this propaganda are hopelessly corrupt, and the video is full of dangerous falsehoods. So maybe you and your kids should try learning the virtue of skepticism over trendy “social awareness”.
Donate to Doctors without Borders if you want to actually do something good.
I have read the links. I have done an extensive amount of research and drawn my own conclusions. Pull the blanket of self-righteousness around yourself a little tighter and then fuck right off.
“It’s funny that when Obama sent a handful of troops in, the far left was screaming “NO BLOOD FOR OIL“.”
Some bad habits are harder to break than others. In the specific case of the new field in western Uganda, British and Italian companies got there first; barring a fundamental change in Ugandan politics that results in contracts being torn up, no amount of American blood could result in Ugandan oil flowing into the gas tanks of bloated American SUVs.
“The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening. The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm. The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” —Teju Cole
Shorter merrinc: “I’m trying to get my privilege validated; fuck right off”
merrinc: It’s cool that this video got you interested in Central Africa and if that’s your main taleaway ratger than armed intervention/supporting the Christian winger Ugandan gov’t I’d say it’s a good thing in this instance.
But still, the producers ARE ALSO pushing a very bad agenda.
If you want to support a positive agenda why not help convince Apple to stop using conflict minerals.
Pretty interesting stuff. Probably common considerations for those who work for or study N.G.O.’s – but the idea of “compassion fatigue” really struck me. I can’t remember ever hearing it before, now it seems like an obvious and important consideration. Complicated work.
I’d forgotten about the pagan babies. They were a staple of my Catholic girlhood. $5, accumulated a nickel or dime at a time. We alternated between a boy baby and a girl baby, and loved the chance to name the baby when we got to $5.
WELP, IC is run by Liberty University loving imperialists.
This is like a Komen-level grift with a White Man’s Burden, only with oil just found in Uganda, it’s no wonder why we’re so wanting to rush into a position to “stabilize” their resources after so many years of neglect.
Another Halocene Human
@Maus: Wow, ugly.
As for raising awareness of LRA, I think this did it better.