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Kony 2012: A Scam or Not?

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

This Kony debacle has had more twists and turns than a heavily David Caruso saturated episode of CSI, and most people (just days after watching a video) have taken a strong stance on one side of the fence or the other. In the front yard, you have the majority of people who’ve got behind the cause to such an extent that they will do illegal shit (plaster action kits on their local 7/11) to get their point heard. The purity of these outspoken activists is questionable, but admirable in the same light, given it only took 30 minutes to completely open their eyes to such a complex issue they were previously unaware of. On the other hand however, you have the cynical folk who’ve trolled Google for a reason not to support the movement, returning with stacks of text that prove any and every reason as to why Invisible Children are the worst people in the world.  Watching the two sides clash, often sprouted on the walls of social media, is painful to watch. In reality, 98% of people (regardless of where they stand on the issue) don’t know enough about such an intricate topic to argue the positives or the negatives, yet they do so with such brash and unjustified confidence.

On the positive side of the Kony movement, it’s doing exactly what it says it will, which is create awareness. No matter how cynical your view of the issue is, educating our generally naive populous on a real problem in the world can only bring about improvements. It’s also changing the social norm that things like this are ‘other peoples problems’, which can be put down to the unavoidable channel of deployment they have used – social media. Hell, little Becky in the rich suburbs of Hollywood would have to ‘hide from news feed’ her whole fucking contact list to get away from this campaigns exposure, so its depth cannot be argued to any reasonable extent. One could also argue that the aesthetically pleasing, intriguing and touching nature of the video itself opens up the target market to a whole new generation. Lets be honest here, donating didn’t seem so ‘boring’ after watching that video, which was exactly it’s point. If one in ten youngsters who watched the video grew up with the perception that charity donation was normal and necessary during life, the derivative success of the campaign quickly multiplies into other issues around the world.

For the purpose of a fair cross section, lets look at the negatives. Its important to remember, positive and productive campaigns can have negative facets without making it a bad campaign, so all you activists chill out before you skyrocket your blood pressure. First and foremost, is Kony even in Uganda? A lot of reports have stated that while the problem was very evident a number of years ago (when the video was filmed), its now non-existent. Some have even gone on the record stating this new movement will bring more harm than good, and thats natives who live and breathe the truth. Second in line, is the nature of the charity. Its important to remember Invisible Children isn’t a direct aid charity, meaning the money you give them is spent on creating awareness (making movies, printing posters), not assisting conditions of said area. This is preferential and an area of varying views, but is awareness or action the defining factor when improving a situation? Finally, and perhaps our biggest gripe (while small) is centered around the pedestal America is put on during the production. At one point, its referred to as ‘The Great Power’. It doesn’t take a long perusal through the history books to find the negatives of an American military presence in a country. As death tolls skyrocket and countless allegations of cruelty an mistreatment arise, is it possible Kony 2012 would turn into a ‘careful what you wish for’ scenario?

Kony 2012 is a powerful campaign that’s done incredible things, set to open up minds around the globe to important issues they previously fared away from. Unfortunately, like anything, there are flaws in it. If the supporters of Kony channeled their energy into improving a few aspects of the movement, rather than simply agreeing to the proposal in its entirety – we’d have a brilliant plan. Here’s to hoping the situation is dealt with in the correct manner.

Categories: Short & Sharp
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