Joseph Kony is one of the most notorious and vilified rebel leaders on the planet.
He stands accused of kidnapping countless children in northern Uganda and neighboring countries, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into killers.
Kony’s accusations have resulted in being named the world’s worst criminal by leaders all across the globe.
His actions have even led to a world-wide campaign sponsored by an activist group called Invisible Children.
The co-founder of the group, Jason Russell, directed and narrated three videos urging viewers to do something about Kony.
The first video, “KONY 2012,” was released in March 2012 and soon became wildly popular, setting YouTube records with tens of millions of views within a matter of days.
In a testament to the explosive power of social media, Russell managed to make Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army household names in a matter of days, baffling diplomats, academics and Ugandans who have worked assiduously on the issue for decades without anything close to the blitz of attention that Russell and his group generated.
According to Invisible Children, its only purpose is to stop the rebel group and its leader. Their plan is to blast his name across the internet and make him infamous.
The question is: Can mass media capture a mass murderer?
Invisible Children encourages viewers to spread the word about Kony in an effort to make him infamous, while encouraging legislators and people who have the power to do something about the issue.
Looking back into history, issues of social justice are often lead by the population.
Once again the world is faced with an issue that demands attention.
As with most things that attract media attention, there are always critics.
Watching the Kony 2012 videos can grab at a viewer’s heart, but some viewers took a deeper look into Invisible Children.
There were two main issues that viewers had with the campaign and the activist group: how the video presents the struggle against Kony and his group, and how Invisible Children spends its money behind the scenes.
Not until halfway through the film does Russell mention that “the war” he describes against Kony is no longer taking place in Uganda, where the documentary is set.
In fact, The Lord’s Resistance Army left the country years ago, migrating to more fragile nations like Congo.
Also, Russell’s narration could imply that there are as many as 30,000 child soldiers in Kony’s army.
After years on the run, the group is believed to be down to hundreds of fighters, though they still prey mercilessly on civilians.
Critics also point out that the film paints the Ugandan military in an excessively favorable light, failing to mention a record of human rights abuses.
Others take issue with the amount of money that Invisible Children – which brings in and spends millions of dollars a year – dedicates to officer salaries, filmmaking costs and travel, as opposed to on-the-ground programs to help rebuild the lives of people traumatized by decades of conflict.
Nevertheless, after the release of the first Kony 2012 video in March, Invisible Children accomplished the very thing it set out to do: making Kony infamous.
People all across the world know about Kony and the terrible acts he and the LRA have committed.
The criticism rose almost as fast as the views on YouTube. By the end of March, Russell suffered a very public and very naked breakdown.
Russell spent some time in a mental hospital to recover, while Invisible Children tried to keep the trust of its supporters.
“Though new to us, the doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks. Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading to the ‘Kony 2012’ video. Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard,” Russell’s family said.
Shortly after, Invisible Children released a sequel in response to the original video’s backlash, but made no mention of the meltdown.
On Oct. 7, a third video, named “Move: DC,” was released. It introduced a new event on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C.
The video begins with a slow motion shot of someone dropping a large slinky from a balcony.
As the slinky stretches out, the bottom of the slinky hovers in mid-air until the impact from above forces it to move.
Throughout the video, Russell explains how everyone has to move, whether they are moving at the top or waiting for the impact from above to force them to move.
Russell’s public meltdown in March resulted in many people losing trust in Invisible Children’s cause.
After the incident, Russell had a personal interview with Oprah where no questions were off limits.
Russell explained himself and his true intentions. His honesty won many skeptics back.
“Move: DC” seemed to address all of the public’s doubts and negative opinions about Russell and the Kony 2012 experiment.
The purpose of the first viral Kony 2012 video was to make Kony infamous while the latest video’s purpose is to get the attention of those in power who can do something to stop the evil man and the LRA.
Invisible Children’s plan is to surround the White House on Nov. 17.
In hopes of grabbing the attention of the newly elected president to do something to stop Kony, the plan is for each state to have a certain number of people show up to represent their state.
The goal is 283 people from Michigan attending the event in Washington DC.
Invisible Children representative for the Monroe region, Shannon Brinks, is available to inform anyone on any questions they have regarding the activist group and the events in November.
For more information on how to make a difference and stop Kony, go to the Invisible Children website: invisiblechildren.com.