On March 2012, the internet exploded with a 30 minute video titled Kony 2012 made by the creators of the organization Invisible Children. The video narrated by Jason Russell, one of the founders of Invisible Children, follows children who are trying to escape being captured by Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan guerilla group named the Lord’s Resistance Army. It quickly became the most viral video in internet history and soon enough from Facebook to Twitter, Kony 2012 was everywhere.
But as quickly as this topic rose to stardom, it quickly spiraled downward and soon brought harsh allegations towards Invisible Children and how true was the allegations presented in the short film. The Invisible Children organization has stood by their reporting along with their faithful followers, even releasing a sequel documentary on April 4th called, Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous.
Victor Ochen, a past victim of the Lord’s Resistance Army and founder of the nonprofit African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), thought it would be a good idea to show 35,000 Ugandans in Lira the film to see what reaction it would received. Also, two million northern Ugandan residents who could not attend the screening tuned in to the radio to listen all the commotion this film has caused.
According to reports much of the footage angered the people present, especially since the narrative was lead by an American man. Malcolm Webb, a reporter who was covering what was going on wrote, “Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialized their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.”
Webb also interviewed a woman present who was outraged at the merchandise Invisible Children was selling saying that, no one would be “selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11.” Many deemed it disrespectful and stated that Invisible Children did not completely think through this campaign. AYINET posted on their website that this was the first and last time they would show the film due to the great amount of negative reaction the audience had.
However, the issues regarding the film continued to pour in. Many reporters and members of the public who decided to look up the matter on their own accused the filmmakers of stretching statistics, issues, and situations to make the film more intense and to make it look much more brutal than it currently is. Also, others say that Kony is not a big threat now as he was years ago when the documentary was filmed.
Invisible Children probably thought it was doing Ugandans a favor and has released many statements supporting its decision. Yes, Kony has robbed young people of their innocence and freedom, but Invisible Children, and any other organization for that matter, should carefully evaluate its actions against evil and make sure it does not backfire and end up hurting the greater population instead.
Though the idea of getting the world informed through a video was successful, Invisible Children should focus more on the political risks as well as what the actual people from Uganda want, since many were angered at the film. Letting Ugandans get more involved the movement can help to pin-point what exactly is going wrong in this nation, not just an outside perspective.