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Friday, March 16, 2012

Kony 2012 Video Raises Concerns

The non-profit group Invisible Children has launched a new public relations campaign against Joseph Kony, the brutal Ugandan war lord, and it has created the most successful viral video in history.

But it’s raising a number of questions. Max Fischer writes in the Atlantic that it does more harm than good.

The damage of Kony 2012 is probably already done, and that damage is real. First, it’s likely to actually decrease the amount of help that goes into Central Africa. The video is a joy to watch and spread because it tells Americans that by simply watching a video, and at most maybe buying a $30 “action kit” of wristbands and stickers, they have done all that’s necessary; they are absolved of responsibility. How much money has Invisible Children soaked up that could have gone to actually effective campaigns or more experienced NGOs?… Worst of all, the much-circulated campaign subtly reinforces an idea that has been one of Africa’s biggest disasters: that well-meaning Westerners need to come in and fix it. Africans, in this telling, are helpless victims, and Westerners are the heroes.

Invisible Children released a response video to critics.

Chief executive Ben Keesey said “I understand why a lot of people are wondering, ‘Is this just some slick, kind of fly-by-night, slacktivist thing?’ when actually it’s not at all. It’s connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign.”

Next week we’ll speak with a Ugandan author who says the campaign is an example of the “pornography of violence.”

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  • Teresa

    and if no attention is brought to this Kony……then life just goes on?
    Unfortunately, I know far too many people….albeit good people, who simply do not pay attention to events that they do not think affects their lives.
    Campaigns like Occupy Wall Street, KONY2012, etc……have woke them up a bit emotionally and intellectually……getting them to pay a little more attention and feel motivated to at least think about getting involved.
    The new paradigm has got to start somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valeriefrank Valerie Hirschorn Frank

    So what SHOULD the message be to Westerners?  That we shouldn’t give a crap about children being kidnapped, made to kill their parents and fight for a warlord?  This is ridiculous. No wonder poor Jason Russell is having a breakdown.  I would be too.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mark.buell Corvus A

    Given the small amount of attention the problems of Africa get from the US – and the small amount of aid – I don’t think you COULD hurt it by reducing it. Although I admit that I do not know, because I have no numbers, but I would be willing to bet that the result of this video will be an increase in total aid dollars reaching the area.

    However, there is a 2nd question raised – SHOULD we interfere in local events and politics? There are many countries with horrific circumstances. We have clearly seen, though, in Iran, Iraq, and now Afghanistan – the role of world cop and hero is not necessarily the best solution.

  • Sam

    Metatron (from Dogma, 1999): You people. If there isn’t a movie about it, it’s not worth knowing, is it? 

  • Lou McKenzie

    Thank you Here and Now for this message.  The humans in control of our earth/world don’t quite understand this type of WAR.  This is the war for PEACE.  Thank you from the bottom, top and all of my heart!  Lou

  • Paula

    Kony 2012 cannot be compared with OWS.OWS grew and developed in a Democratic way with participants and the public being kept well-informed.They work in conjunction with local groups e.g Labor,anti-eviction groups.It was not an overnight vigilante cyber flash mob.
    They are fiscally accountable and do not spend anywhere near the level of Kony 2012(they spend 2/3 of $ on overhead)
    A little bit of misleading and sensational information, given to millions of people in a flash is not the way to address world problems.To act in this way is NOT caring re the children.

  • Chris

    Lets be clear, this movie is about ‘us’ and our emerging world first and foremost… few would care if it wasn’t. It doesn’t deal in subtleties and ask you what can be done, it tells you to buy an action kit. This man and his organization strong-armed our government into a conflict that many in this country would not agree to involvement in. The solution is inspiring until you get to the details. This world needs people who care, and I pray for the directors recovery so he can get back to work, but the world needs acts of goodwill that are banal as well as transcendent. Who is this job going to be handed over to on April the 21st, I hope to God they don’t mess is up.  

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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