International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

KONY 2012

My younger sister brought the organization Invisible Children to my attention after members of the organization visited her high school. Then earlier this evening this video began circulating around Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It is a video made by an organization called Invisible Children. The video focuses on the wrongdoings of Joesph Kony head of the LRA. The video largely focuses on Kony’s conscription of child soldiers. The video itself was made in order to raise funding for Kony’s capture and prosecution by the ICC. The short film tells the story of one man’s, (the founder of the organization Invisible Children) struggle to raise public awareness about these issues. Much of the information covered within the film is quite basic, but I found it interesting to watch because it includes many personal interviews and anecdotes. The video gives a deadline for action, the filmmaker hopes that by December 2012 Kony will be captured. I’ve attached the video here http://vimeo.com/invisible/kony2012 . I thought this was interesting mainly because an issue that we have learned about and that I personally deem important is getting public attention and becoming more salient. The video uses the typical celebrity gimmicks in order to gain attention and publicity, however I think the overall message is intriguing.

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7 responses to “KONY 2012

  1. Alana Tiemessen March 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    So glad you posted this! i saw it earlier today. I’ll add more later, but the campaign (and Invisible Children in general) is getting a lot of backlash. I haven’t watched the full video yet…

  2. michaelbasumass March 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    This video has gone completely viral. People who I know that have little interest in human rights are posting it on their Facebooks. The campaign aims to get Kony famous and pressure Congress to deploy and maintain military assistance to the Ugandan army to help arrest him. I think it’s great that this issue is beginning to get widespread attention. Ocampo is interviewed in the video, so it looks like the ICC will be getting a bit more recognition to the average American.
    I have read some criticism of the campaign, some of which I agree with, and some not. Invisible Children is being criticized because much of the revenue they bring in does directly go towards helping children in need. However, the stated method of action for this campaign is to make Kony famous, so of course a lot of money will be going towards advocacy.
    What I am worried about is the U.S. assistance to the Ugandan army. While they are against the LRA, they have committed many atrocities as well. The U.S. has a history of training and arming rebel groups that have ended up acting against us in the future (the Mujahideen come to mind). I agree that arresting Kony is a necessary goal, but I am concerned that looking at the Ugandan army as the “good guys” could have serious consequences. Also, while Kony is the leader of the LRA, I’m not sure that his arrest will necessarily weaken the LRA significantly.
    What do you think?

  3. Alana Tiemessen March 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Very thoughtful response Michael. Indeed, both the KONY2012 campaign video and the criticism of it have gone viral. You raise good questions about the purpose of advocacy and its policy prescriptions.

    Personally, I have serious reservations about Invisible Children’s advocacy approach and think many (but not all) of the criticisms are warranted. Among those criticisms are a) the “white savior” complex that depicts Africans as helpless, lacking agency, and in need of saving from the West b) IC is often accused oversimplifying the context of the conflict and exaggerating the details in order to get more attention and funding c) they do support the Uganda military and the Ugandan military has committed many atrocities. d) i personally find their advocacy very tacky

    Specifically with respect to the video, many have rightly asked “where are the Ugandans?” Even on IC’s board of directors there are no Ugandans, which raises questions about how legitimate it is that IC represents their interests.

    On the other hand, is all exposure good exposure? Will this make people aware of the atrocities and humanitarian crisis in Uganda in way that is productive?

    Here are some thoughtful blog posts by scholars and activists, some of whom I know are credible on this issues. I highly recommend the first few.

    Invisible Children: Saviors or Sensationalists? http://www.undispatch.com/invisible-children-saviors-or-sensationalists
    The Definitive Kony 2012 Drinking Game (irreverant as always, but the Wronging Rights bloggers are very spot on with their snarky analysis): http://www.wrongingrights.com/2012/03/the-definitive-kony-2012-drinking-game.html
    You Don’t Have My Vote: http://innovateafrica.tumblr.com/
    Visible Children: http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/post/18890947431/we-got-trouble
    Let’s Talk About Kony: http://securingrights.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/lets-talk-about-kony/
    Bad guys, good guys, and the people in between: http://www.how-matters.org/2012/03/06/good-guys-bad-guys/
    Taking Kony2012 Down a Notch: http://justiceinconflict.org/2012/03/07/taking-kony-2012-down-a-notch/

  4. carolinegrady40 March 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the entire video yet, as I’m in Maine with sub-par internet service, but I think the KONY 2012 campaign, while obviously flawed, is setting an interesting blue print for expanding public knowledge about international justice. Invisible Children is utilizing the most powerful weapon any organization has: the social media. Twitter, facebook, blogs like this one – they are all part of the common internet, and not merely news sources. It’s an unfortunate reality that the average person is not scouring online (or tangible) newspapers for the latest developments in Uganda or other war-torn regions. It’s an example of leading a horse to water.

    I like to think, as a general rule, people are not willfully ignorant of the plight of their fellow man. Expose people to the problem, like Invisible Children are doing. Whether or not their intentions are honorable, whether or not they are doing this for their own profit or to truly bring to light the issues in Uganda, it is already had an impact. Bringing Joseph Kony, even for a brief moment, to the forefront of social conscience is a huge step.

  5. aboampon March 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Caroline’s comment. I don’t want to generalize and say that all or any exposure is good exposure, because that definitely isn’t true. But in the case of Joesph Kony and Invisible Children’s campaign if nothing more the general public is aware of both his crimes as well as the suffering that is so prevalent in Africa. I don’t think people are willfully ignorant. I’m sort of glad both the video AND the backlash have gone viral. This way people will have to do some “googling” of their own in order to decide where they stand. (Not all people will react this way, but some will.) In the least this issue, and others like it, deserve awareness from Westerners and IC has ensured this.

    However, on a more superficial note, I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization IC is a little shady / keeping money or whatever, the video is so incredibly well edited and advertised and it gives “shout outs” to Facebook and other social media websites. It was clear to me within the first few minutes of watching that the video has some type of hidden agenda.

  6. ecadams March 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I agree with almost everything that has been said here. Generally speaking, I think the exposure is good to get people aware, and as the comment above states, the backlash might inspire people to do their own research on the subject rather than following the Kony 2012 Campaign blindly. I sincerely hope that people do start their own research because I think the video was seriously flawed.

    As for the film, I think the IC fed the situation to it’s viewers almost as simplistically as the filmmaker fed the story to his young son. As Professor Tiemessen pointed out, it easily compartmentalizes the good guys, bad guys, and the dramatization almost fetishizes the entire situation. Although the actions of Joseph Kony are ones that could easily be defined as evil, simplistic moralizing is one of the core mindsets of those who commit genocide, where perpetrators feel justified to kill off people that they think are evil. Of course this would not happen with the Kony 2012 campaign, but I think it’s important to not fall into that way of thinking and look at the facts and the whole picture. The video only presents s sliver of the whole picture of what is going on in Uganda. As mentioned already, it says nothing of what the Ugandan Army has done, or displacement of the Acholi people. Also, not to be a negative nancy here, but will the atrocities of the LRA necessarily stop if Kony is taken out of the picture? Yes, it will be a positive step, but change the world? Let’s get real. This video could have been easily given more information and cut the drama, while still being compelling, as Kony’s actions speak for themselves. The core message is correct: Joseph Kony should be stopped, but I question how this campaign is going about it.

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