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 firstname.lastname@example.org…
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. )