Kony 2012 explodes in popularity

Over three weeks, Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” video has gotten more than 85 million views and sparked massive discussions across all social media platforms.

Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to bringing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice, posted the 30-minute video on March 5. “Kony 2012” offers a simple breakdown of Kony, his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the more than 30,000 children who have been abducted and forced to serve as child soldiers.

#STOPKONY was consistently in the top five Twitter trending topics during the first week the video was online.  Invisible Children also reached 3 million Facebook “likes” and 415,834 followers on Twitter.

The Kony 2012 campaign advocates a two-step process that asks young adults to spread the word, first to celebrities, or “culturemakers,” and then to politicians, the “policymakers.”

“I think it’s incredible how the younger, more technologically-savvy generation is able to create movements so quickly using tools like social networking,” sophomore Gabrielle Roland said.

A screening of the video will be held on Tuesday at 5 p.m. in UC Ballroom B, followed by a discussion.

The campaign will culminate in a national Cover the Night event on April 20. On that night, supporters will be encouraged to plaster their respective cities with posters of Kony and Invisible Children. Cover the Night events have been planned in Coral Gables and the surrounding Miami area.

Invisible Children is selling action kits with promotional materials, including posters, buttons and wristbands, for $30.

Students like sophomore Meera Nagarsheth are supportive of Invisible Children’s cause.

“Kony 2012 cuts to the core of the issue in Uganda and neighboring countries:  that there is an injustice in the world and we can do something about it,” said Nagarsheth, the co-chair of UM’s Invisible Children club.

Junior De’Shonte’ Brooks  agrees with Nagarsheth but does not believe that the U.S. government can do more than it has.

“We’ve sent 100 troops over to help them, which is more than enough considering the fact that the man hasn’t done anything or been seen since 2006,” she said. “I don’t support sending thousands of troops over to find a guy who has been hiding for six years and hasn’t caused any problems.”

Kony and his LRA disappeared from Uganda about six years ago, but have been active in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Invisible Children has faced some backlash in the weeks after the “Kony 2012” release. According to the organization’s 2011 financial statement, it spent $8,894,632, of which $3,156,876 was used for travel, film costs, and compensation. Although it is a nonprofit, $2,810,681 was spent on direct services. The remainder of the expenses covered operations.

“I oppose the organization because of its shady financial records and use of money,” freshman Andre Naranjo said.

On March 15, San Diego police detained Kony 2012 film director Jason Russell for disrupting traffic and running around outside in his underwear, screaming profanities.

“I was shocked when I first saw it and even now I’m still just trying to understand how he even got to that point,” Naranjo said. “I feel people are going to start questioning him much more since the incident.”

Ugandan citizens have also spoken out against the video. The video seems to portray the entire country of Uganda as being at war with the LRA. However, according to Edmund Abaka, a UM professor of Africana studies and history, the army was mostly active in the northern portion of the country.

“The people in the east, south, and west feel that the image of country has been changed by this,” he said.

However, Abaka believes that thanks to the video, the African Union (AU) has been forced to allocate more of its resources to countries afflicted by the LRA.

“Now, there is more vigilance and more AU soldiers,” Abaka said. “The video has put the LRA on notice. The eyes of the world are focused on them and their capture. If they come back, the AU forces will have the resources to apprehend them and bring them to justice.”

Roland believes that these side issues detract attention from the real problem.

“It’s a shame that the real issue is being overshadowed by this unfortunate event,” she said. “I don’t think it should be ignored, but people should not lose sight of the real effort being advertised, which is advocating for the children being taken advantage of.”

March 25, 2012


Daniel Cepero

Multimedia Editor

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Kony 2012 explodes in popularity”

  1. Emelia says:

    I believe the biggest problem with this movement is that the people who join do not ask questions. A lot of the points made within the video are incorrect, or out dated, yet so many people who see the video are moved and choose not to look any further.

  2. camille brown says:

    I watched the Kony 2012 video around 2 weeks ago and I thought it was very touching. With the help of social networking sites like facebook and youtube the video has reached over 85 million views which is very impressive. I had no idea that they spent over 8 million dollars on this project, that is a lot of money especially for a non profit organization. It may have been worth the money because so many people have seen the video and now know more about the Kony situation. I do not understand how a human being could steal children and force them to kill people, Kony is clearly a sick man. There is no doubt that Joseph Kony and the LRA need to be stopped but is it America’s responsibility to stop them?
    Our government of course could do more to help but there are problems everywhere including our own country and I think our issues should have priority over any other country. Not to sound selfish but I am more concerned about how I am going to pay my tuition and if I will be able to get a job when I graduate. I do hope that Kony is found but I do not think that should be up to American troops, I think Africa should be doing more to find him.

  3. Nicholas Swyter says:

    I had the opportunity to attend a special screening of the Kony 2012 film hosted by Invisible Children representatives earlier this evening. What made this screening much more valuable was that there were representatives from Invisible Children present. Joining the representatives was Santo, 24, a victim of Joseph Kony’s wrath. He told the audience his story of how he had to flee from the LRA for a good portion of his life, until he was able to get schooling from the Invisible Children organization. He explained that he was able to learn English, and escape his hardships through the organization. Hearing Santo’s story did restore a lot of my faith in the organization.
    While I do believe it is healthy to question the incentives of every organizations, I do believe that people are often too critical of Invisible Children. Even though $3,156,876 was used on was used for travel, film costs, and compensation costs, I don’t believe that that funding was put to waste. Any Hollywood film with that sort of budget would struggle to reach the 86 million views Kony 2012 has on YouTube. People have also been critical of the way Jason Russell crafts his film of putting more emphasis on provoking an emotion rather than overloading audiences with facts. While this may be true, it is a necessary tactic to make people take notice, which has worked. Others have criticized the film for not emphasizing that Kony is no longer in Uganda, the amount of children currently in the LRA and how the problem exists mostly in Northern Africa. Upon hearing these criticisms I watched the film again, and noticed that the film does mention these things, but just does not make them explicitly obvious. There is also no place in the film that mentions that the movement advocates sending more troops to Africa, just to ensure that those already there continue their mission.
    It is always a good consideration to investigate any NGO before making a contribution, but it appears that people are being too critical of Invisible Children.

  4. Brynn Freeland says:

    I do find it amazing that with social networking sites, this generation is able to not only learn about social issues such as Kony 2012, but to also get involved. When I first heard about the Kony 2012 movement I was all for it, and I still am. But I have started to question the motives behind Kony 2012. Joseph Kony has been terrorizing Uganda for years now. He has taken children from their homes, has forced them to fight in his Lord’s Resistance Army, and has caused the death of many innocent people in Uganda. But this has been going on for years, so why now? Why are the actions of one man finally coming to light, especially when he hasn’t been heard from since 2006? I also find it interesting that whenever something like this occurs in the international community, United States citizens are among the first to respond. They show so much support for a cause through donations and raising awareness. But as soon as a tragedy occurs at home, such as the death of Trayvon Martin, some people try not to make it a big deal. They try to diminish the seriousness of a situation because it happened here, in America. Before you can demand justice for persons in foreign countries, you must first demand justice for United States citizens.

  5. N says:

    You have got to be kidding me. This thing hasn’t died down yet. Listen, there’s so many problems going on in that continent right now, this just scratches the surface. And do people really think they’re going to make a difference putting signs up of this guy, who we already have a picture of?

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