I’m sure that everyone has had enough of the hysteria surrounding Kony 2012 by now. I know I have. But an opportunity arose that I just couldn’t resist – I was confronted with someone who hadn’t seen the video, or ever heard of Kony.
I have debated the issues surrounding this viral with campaigners, activists, lefties, righties and what seems like everyone I know and opinion has converged along a fairly thin margin.
Here are the views of a forty-two (I hope she forgives me for revealing her age) year-old Indian woman.
“The American guy does not come across like the type of person who should be undertaking such a huge campaign – what is he trying to achieve by talking about his son so much?
The issue is surely not so simple.
I found his comparisons between Uganda and America condescending – there are so many bad things happening there too, why doesn’t he focus on them? I am sure that Joseph Kony is a truly awful man but I don’t think that ‘making him famous’ is going to solve the issue.
Is the world equal to a four-year olds judgments? What is he trying to achieve by asking his son who the bad guy is?
I do think he is very clever [what’s his name again?] in how he is publicizing Kony and trying to get celebrities involved to spread the message, the fact that over 80 million people have seen the video is a real testament to the marketing power of this campaign.”
I posed four questions to my aunty and my mum (who also hadn’t seen the video)
1) So, what do you think? (post-viewing)
A: I think it’s a gimmick to make money for his charity. It was horrific to see pictures of mutilations; it was incomprehensible, but it wasn’t convincing enough for me to want to donate to his charity or share the video. There are too many unanswered questions and the narrative made me uneasy.
M: I would say that it is one of the most touching documentaries I have seen in a long-time, and for someone who doesn’t know anything about the cause, or doesn’t keep up with international affairs, it painted an overarching story of what is happening in Uganda. I won’t be able to stop thinking about those children and I am amazed at what Jason Russell has achieved in the last eight years.
2) The situation in Uganda is extremely complex and fragile, Joseph Kony hasn’t been in the north of the country for 6 years. A lot of Ugandans are outraged by this campaign as they say it hijacks the space for genuine Ugandan-led advocacy, reverts back to the ‘white-man as saviour’ narrative and will eventually do more harm than good. What do you think about this?
A: I find this video unrealistic; all the people seem to be white American university kids. They are being led on a cause which they don’t really know anything about. Also, what is this deadline all about?
M: I think your question is putting that idea into my head. Until you asked me this, I didn’t think of this issue from a racial perspective. Irrespective of the consequences, I think this video is extremely powerful. I was in tears, the story is very well told and I was captured throughout. This video made me really believe in the cause and in Jacob’s story.
3) This campaign is essentially endorsing US-led military intervention in Uganda. Do you think this is a good idea?
A: I think it’s too late. I think it should have been done in 2005/2006 or when Kony was posing a real threat in Uganda. Also, I am no expert on these issues, but as far as I can recall, US-led military intervention has rarely resulted in positive outcomes.
M: I don’t think that’s wrong. Just from watching this video, it seems like once Kony is captured there will be a happy ending and finally one cause will have been achieved. I don’t know much of the surrounding information though.
4) Would you donate to Invisible Children (the organization behind the video) or share this campaign?
A: No to both. Jason Russell hasn’t inspired me or convinced me – how is a bracelet going to help kill a warlord and even if he does die, what then?
M: I would seriously have considered it, but when I saw the bracelets, and toolkit, I felt a bit uneasy. The video then seemed like a gimmick or a commercial and it didn’t really fit with the rest of the story.
All hell has now broken loose and once again the #Kony2012 debate has flared up. I suspect we will be discussing these issues for a while longer.
As we wrapped up the discussion, my mum made an interesting point to me “you are surrounded by this information, knowledge and are exposed to constant critques about issues like these. You have to understand that for someone like me, I have a normal job, and children, the amount of time I have to devote to such causes is limited. Therefore, when a video like this one engages me, I don’t know about the surrounding politics or backlash, and frankly, don’t have the time to find out. I think other charities need to realize this.”
Definitely something to think about.