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If you’ve seen “KONY 2012” plastered on T-shirts, signs and countless social media sites recently and thought that another candidate was about to give Republican hopefuls a run for their money, I hate to disappoint you.
It’s actually a campaign of a different sort.
Thanks to the non-profit organization Invisible Children, Joseph Kony has become the most recent name added to the not-elite-enough list of those who found fame through the phenomenon that is the viral video, joining the ranks of those like the oh-so-poetic Rebecca Black.
Over the past several weeks, the KONY 2012 fad has taken over the media universe with a 30-minute video documenting the atrocities committed in Uganda by the leader of the terrorist group the Lord’s Resistance Army, which began abducting child soldiers in the 1980s.
And while being educated about social justice issues is an arguably better use of time than watching a 13-year-old girl sing about the days of the week, the KONY 2012 campaign may have more holes in it than most theories about global warming.
Invisible Children’s roots go back to 2003 when three young filmmakers traveled to Africa looking for a story to tell. What they documented was Uganda’s children seeking refuge from the LRA. The organization officially began its aid work in the African country in 2005, and has since been using social networking sites to garner support and awareness for its cause.
So, what’s the point of their latest media craze?
The non-profit claims that it “aims to make Joseph Kony famous” through the film.
Unfortunately, a little research into the campaign uncovers some problems.
For starters, most of the footage shown in the video is what was originally shot back in 2003. Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal, except that a lot has happened since then, and the outdated material is misleading to viewers who don’t have any knowledge about the situation.
In 2006, Kony and his rebel militia were pushed out of Uganda and are now operating mostly in the Congo, which in turn has drastically decreased its numbers to a few hundred, all of which the documentary fails to mention.
This would be the equivalent of posting a video about the Holocaust under the pretense that Nazis were still actively running concentration and extermination camps in Europe. It’s just not the case.
In light of this information, questions arise about what can actually be accomplished with KONY 2012.
The U.S. has already sent 100 military advisers to the area to assist in tracking down Kony. Though they have not had success yet, what exactly will making Kony famous accomplish?
No matter how many Facebookers know what he looks like, they will never be able to do any more than what is already being done. It’s not as if someone is going to recognize his picture, spot him walking into a 7-Eleven, and bring him to justice.
The campaign has also offered supporters the chance to take part in the cause by purchasing an Action Kit at just 30 bucks a pop. According to the website, “People will think you’re an advocate of awesome.”
As great as that proposition sounds, before shelling out the cash, newly impassioned activists should take a few seconds to avert attention from the KONY 2012 site to Google, where a quick search will reveal just where their money is going, or not going, rather.
Public records have shown that Invisible Children Inc. has not always been the most transparent with revenue. One thing that can be seen is that the higher-ups are all profiting, which may make people think twice about donating.
It probably can’t be determined whether the organization is being intentionally shifty or not, but responsibility now rests with the masses of people following the campaign. If audiences can spend 30 minutes to watch the video, they should take a few more to get informed about what’s really going on.