Kony 2012: A giant leap for social change
It seems the latest viral craze is not a sneezing panda or a baby with a cute accent but something prolific in the world of social change. Breannan Graham reports.
The viral success of the Invisible Children organisation film KONY 2012 has had over 11 million views on YouTube in 48 hours. It currently has, at the publication date of this piece, over 73 million views and growing.
Kony 2012 is a social media campaign unlike any other. It targets the leader of a violent African militia group Joseph Kony, who heads the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Kony is definitely a monster. His “rebel” army has kidnapped up to 30,000 children as soldiers and prostitutes, killed and mutilated countless civilians in Uganda’s Gulu region.
Filmmaker and activist Jason Russel says that the aim is “not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
I am sure we have all heard about it, seen it reposted on Facebook a hundred times and watched the video. Perhaps some of us have even purchased a Kony 2012 kit or pledged to advocate for the organisations’ day of action on April 20th 2012.
Naturally, when there is this much publicity for an event or cause like this, the criticism and cynicism will follow. However what intrigued me the most was the power that social media and human compassion can have when harnessed for a cause. The convergence of media platforms and online clout for Kony 2012 is unprecedented.
During the films endearing moments of parental intimacy between Russel and his son Gavin and the horrific scenes of the brutality of Kony’s army, Russel focused on the war crimes that as a global community we’re essentially powerless to stop.
The images of Hitler, Pol Pot and their landscapes of genocide and murder really made me feel like the histories I have studied as a student could perhaps now in our modern age, never be repeated and hopefully be a non existent topic of textbooks to come.
Russel and his team at Invisible Children have made their voices heard in the US government. Last year one hundred military advisors were sent to Uganda to train the Ugandan army to co-ordinate Konys capture and arrest.
The day of action is to help to continue public support for the issue so the US maintains its support of the cause.
No matter how you view the aims or motives of the Invisible Children organisation, the new media campaign that they have created will be, as social commentator James Griffin articulates, “a turning point where people understood the power of social media.”
Hopefully our generation will realise that social change can be in their hands or at a simple click of a button.