‘Kony2012’: Raising Awareness in the Social Age
If you’re signed up to any social network you’ll have undoubtedly seen #stopkony trending over the past few days.
If so, you’ll know it’s the latest work by the charity Invisible Children to make famous the Ugandan leader of the violent, child-recruiting Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony.
The 30min feature film uploaded to Vimeo and YouTube has, at the time of writing, received a combined 55 million views - and that number is growing fast.
It’s an emotional short film. It’s also an extremely well shot and edited feature that has spread rapidly across social netowrks and news channels. But it has drawn criticism from some quarters for the budget required to make it, and, perhaps more concerning, for some alleged factual inaccuracies.
Visible Children, a Tumblr blog, is vocal in its criticism of ‘Kony2012’. They question the charity’s distribution of funds, accountability and support for Uganda’s army and other military forces: “Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow.”
Despite this criticism, I can’t help thinking this is precisely what Invisible Children should be doing. After all, their stated mission is to ‘use the power of media to inspire young people to help end the longest-running armed conflict in Africa. We make documentaries, tour them around the world, and lobby our nation’s leaders to make ending this conflict a priority.’
As a tactic to raise mass awareness in a short space of time, Ivisible Children should be applauded. There is no doubt that many millions of people the world over will now know who Joseph Kony is and the crimes he is alleged to have commited.
And all the criticism, claim and counter-claim surrounding Invisible Children will only help their cause by keeping ‘Kony2012’ firmly front of mind for a long time to come.
I suspect some of the criticism levelled at the charity is valid. But if the objective is to build awareness and compel an astonishingly large number of people to dig a little deeper and find out for themselves what Kony and the LRA have been responsible for, this short film is nothing short of brilliant.