By Katie Szymanski, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 12, 2012
Since its release last Monday, the Kony 2012 film and campaign — created by the non-profit organization Invisible Children — has become a viral sensation, accumulating more than 70 million views on YouTube and sparking an explosion of coverage on Facebook and Twitter.
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The film — which demands the arrest of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa who has been accused of abducting thousands of children and forcing them into roles as soldiers, wives and sex slaves — has invoked mixed feelings among viewers around the nation, including students and faculty at the University.
Invisible Children originated in 2005, and according to its website, the group utilizes “film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore (Lord’s Resistance Army-affected) communities in Uganda and other Central African nations to peace and prosperity.” The campaign identifies Kony as “the world’s worst war criminal.”
The rapid spread of Invisible Children’s online message allowed viewers of the 30-minute film to simultaneously post, share and tweet about Kony 2012, initiating heated debate among supporters and critics, while providing an open forum for discussion.
Despite the campaign’s virality, it’s received criticism for the lack of information provided in the film, the organization’s use of donations and the timeliness of the campaign.
Omolade Adunbi, assistant professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, said he appreciates the efforts made by Invisible Children, but does not agree with their presentation of the crisis in Africa.
“It’s a good thing that (Invisible Children) is bringing attention to what is going on in Uganda, but the way it has been presented (makes it seem) as if it is something new, but it has been around for 26 years,” Adunbi said. “Many efforts have (already) been made to bring attention to the crisis, so they are not the first set of people to bring attention to this case.”
He added that the complexities of the conflicts in Uganda and the surrounding African nations make it difficult to assume that capturing Kony and bringing him to justice will resolve them.
“Taking out Kony is not going to solve the problem … They need to be able to find a lasting solution to the varying problems confronting the region,” Adunbi said. “This will mean bringing everyone to the table to discuss this problem, not only the Ugandan state, but also the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Sudan.”
In a statement responding to critiques of Kony 2012, Invisible Children acknowledged that the length of the film affects the depth of information and complexity provided, adding that other information about the campaign is available.
“Invisible Children has sought to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format, focusing on the core attributes of LRA leadership that infringe upon the most basic of human rights,” the statement reads. “In a 30-minute film, however, many nuances of the 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked.”
Business freshman Ram Choi said he interprets the Kony 2012 campaign as a way to look beyond just the just Kony, and work toward implementing methods to quell violence and establish sustainable harmony throughout Africa.
“(Invisible Children) is not just out there to ‘crumble Kony,’” Choi said. “Kony is simply a broader theme of their true focus in helping the Central African communities gain peace; a quite ambitious goal, but definitely worth the struggle.”
Choi acknowledged that the organization’s video relies heavily on emotional persuasion to catch the viewer’s attention, but said ultimately it’s impactful in conveying the dire situation afflicting thousands of citizens.