Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two things to lend your eyes and ears to

* Apparently this embedded bit doesn't show up or work half the times I view this page so click the above link if you only see one of the two things I said were here!

Personally, I've known of Kony for a long time.  Plenty of people have.  

So.  KONY2012.

The thing to realize is that KONY2012 and the entire Kony situation is complicated.  And more complicated.  He is a terrible, terrible man.  That much has been clear.  I do think  it's interesting that people seem to question where their money goes, when they don't claim to (from what I can tell in my recent browsing) be giving all of their money to the kids.  If people think they should, that's one valid thing to talk about, but I think it's an unfair criticism to say that they aren't giving their money to the kids when they aren't claiming they are.  It would be different if they were claiming all their money goes to the children.  But I don't think they do.  They are big on advocacy.  They're good at it.  It's what they do.  People who claim they're misappropriating money may not realize that they are not claiming to be doing anything else with the money.  It  seems like an unfair accusation.  This doesn't make them bad.  They pretty clearly have posted where their money goes -- I don't see them hiding anything there.  No, buying a KONY2012 shirt won't be giving money directly to a child.  But I don't see them claiming that it will.  Are they trying to be "saviors"?  I think it's a bit of a weighty label to bandy about as though anyone trying to help when they are in a position of power to do so is trying to be a "savior" (I put the quotation marks because when the term is used it's meant in a derogatory way).

Does the younger population that's just leaving high school/entering college need to become aware of issues like this?  Yes.  I'm sure plenty of people my age and older have been aware of Kony for years (and I'm sure plenty haven't and the video is Breaking News).  There are plenty of younger people who may not be tuned into that frequency.  I visited a high school English class about two months ago to talk about Ishmael Beah's book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier and many of them were shocked at the things Beah described in the book because the concept of child soldiers was New[s] to them.  And it seems far more likely that more would become tuned in by a viral campaign instead of a random English class.

Now, does that awareness help?  Everyone jokes about slacktivism after all.  It comes down to what your definition of 'help' is.  Is increased military involvement good?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We can go back to the old "it's complicated" argument.  Because I think it is.  And I'm not saying it's complicated as in "it's impossible to stop Kony".  I just mean I think it's complicated in a logistical sense.  Maybe this campaign will result in more young people becoming more aware and then subsequently continuing to stay tuned into the global conversation and that would be a good thing.  And as the NPR segment points out, is a powerful push by the people for military action a good thing if it's successful?

I do wonder though if April 20 is too far away.  Does the younger generation have the attention span to dig heels in and make the kind of poster-y awareness impact that they want to all as a group over a month from now?  (I feel old saying that, but I include myself in that generation.  I think.  I'm turning 26 this year, where do I fall in all this, anyway?)

My two cents. You're welcome, Internet.  


  1. I'm ashamed to say that this was actually news to me. I saw the video yesterday, and then I did repost it to my facebook account expressing my reservations with the film, which is completely different from what you're talking about, but here's what I said if you're interested:

    so- I think this movie is really bad, I don't like the guy who made it, I don't like how he uses his kid in it, it's over the top emotionally manipulative in a way that feels incredibly fake. & there is a super misjudged sequence of people flashing peace signs in a way that is creepily similar to the 'Heil Hitlar' hand salute.

    However the cause is a good one & the campaign is interesting to me. I love how he lays out a game plan - it's smaltzy - but there's a game plan! I'm not left wondering what to do! I love how social networking sites are being used to mobilize people to create change, and over throw dictators - & ultimately the point he's making is a good one: people should know about this guy - be horrified by him - & then commit themselves to getting rid of him regardless of national interests. He has made an excellent case for that.

    Back to me now: I'm not a proponent of military action almost ever - but then to stand by and do nothing feels really wrong too. So- I dunno.

  2. I'll say in part my knowledge of Kony for a long time is in part because my younger brother went to Uganda and worked at a children's home for a little bit (although not with Invisible Children). So I've read up on Invisible Children prior to now because we chatted about it and his feelings on it a while back, if I recall.

    The using of his kid wasn't something I liked either. However, if he's trying to reach a very broad audience, then from a marketing standpoint it makes sense to be really, really sweepingly broad by using a little kid. It's emotionally manipulative (and I think unfair to the kid) but I can see the marketing perspective on it, I think. If their goal is to create a mass movement, then they have to spend the 30 minutes really ripping it apart emotionally, which I think they accomplish. I'd wager fewer people will dissect it from a purely marketing perspective like us! The kid provides a focal point and a "regular person" and a "future generation" aspect that people in the US can relate to easily (ie, 'that could be my kid, I want my kid to live in a world without Kony too').

    Definitely read up on the Night Walkers/Commuters. It's really (I think) the best place to start when reading about Kony. The video doesn't really explain it a whole lot.

  3. (And I didn't mean to write that it might be Breaking News as a jab! I hope it didn't come across that way!)

  4. No you're fine :)

    I guess my problem with it was that the video & the way it was made turned me off - the stuff with the kid had me yelling at my computer. I care about the issue and I don't mind emotional impact, I'm all for it in fact, but the way the video was presented and the super staged vibe that I got from it made not want to participate by sharing it with people.

    I think this is a great propaganda video: but it's lacking the strong call to action and feeling of empowerment that the Kony video has. What I like about the Kony video is that after watching it I know exactly what I can do to help, and I feel like what I do matters - that feeling and certainly not as strong in a lot of human rights campaigns.

  5. Exactly! The whole sitting-the-kid-down bit was just...offputting there.

    The "call the action" aspect is spot-on and pretty brilliantly done with the design work and poster-blanketing idea (something that appeals to young people).

  6. Dude I'm just listening to Talk Of The Nation- is that you a talk talking? Awwwww.

  7. Nope, not me! Though it would be cool to be on there.