(For the record, I’m aware that it’s merely KONY 2012, but I’m going to make a point with that.)
Criticism, like love, is a many splendored thing. Truth is, it’s way easier to criticize something or somebody than it is to acknowledge that something or somebody is actually attempting to make a difference and give credit where credit is due. Such brings us to the present day (well last week and running currently) KONY 2012 campaign by the company and organization Invisible Children.
To be fair, I knew very little about this until yesterday when I read somebody’s Facebook status criticizing the Kony 2012 thing on the grounds that anybody who cares about this now and didn’t pay attention to any myriad African causes is hypocrtical and ill-informed. Fair enough, but totally misses the boat. But we’ll get to that in a moment. Back to me just finding out what in Sam Hill this Kony thing is about.
I’d heard mention of it last week when somebody mentioned some video for Kony. Now, I obviously listen to too much hip-hop because I immediately thought it was some sort of King of New York upcoming tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. Or some wayward reworking of T.O.N.Y. by Capone-N-Noreaga. And because I didn’t care, I let that b*tch breathe. Again, too much hip-hop. But after seeing the critical FB message I watched the entire video, all roughly 30 minutes of it, at work, and found myself in awe at this organizations presentation AND plan to bring attention and awareness to a cause.
Let’s forget the actual target of the cause for a second. Let’s talk about the method. It’s sheer brilliance. In today’s social media driven landscape, Invisible Chidlren, created a video where they showed the birth of a movement from inception to action. And that my friends is impressive. And it’s one that takes full advantage of the way youth move in this nation now from creating viral campaigns and utilizing that message to effect change to the point where the President takes notice and does something entirely based on their work and advocacy. That is how you do something. That’s how you make a difference. I must say that I was completely impressed and inspired by the dedication it took to be both patient enough and believe in something enough to stick with it for the long haul. And the method of creating propoganda to make the man’s name a household name isn’t even obnoxious like some of the Occupy camps that popped up. Interesting that immediate reaction was to draw comparisons. I’m human. Sue me.
Joseph Kony, one of the leaders of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, is undoubtedly a bad man. And while there’s NO way that any 30 minute video could fully capture the complexity of the issue of Kony’s crimes against humanity and the creation of child rebel soldiers, what this video did was create an entire awareness to possibly as many as 74 million people who watched the video on YouTube and who knows how many others who’ve read about it since last week (March 5).
Obviously, that creates controversy. Which is where the criticisms start to come in (all easily Google-able). Is it too little too late? Some say that Kony is nowhere near as much of an issue as he was 10 years ago in Uganda. Maybe true, but he’s still on the ICC’s list of wanted criminals. Some say this video has done more damage than good by giving Kony the heads up that the USA and Uganda are looking for him and will force him to change up his methods of hiding (he’s on the run). Others claim that this organization isn’t clear and transparent about their actual charity work, etc. A claim that the organization itself hasn’t been shy about addressing. Others think the video had the wrong focus. And some folks are claiming some type of “why do you people care now when you didn’t care about anything else….”
I can honestly say that I hate people who make that last argument. You can’t do anything about anything unless you know about it. Speeches only reaches those that know it exists. Knowing what to care about is impossible unless everybody knows where to find out about what’s going on. Which is why this campaign is brilliant. You don’t know who Joseph Kony is? Watch the video. I guarantee you will by the end.
And that’s the point. Creating awareness about somebody in order to get the public consciousness on board. That’s the only way you get change. The Civil Rights movement wouldn’t have lasted if 100 people boarded that train. It wasn’t until the nation saw the brutality in Birmingham and the water hoses and police dogs attacking defenseless and peaceful protestors that the nation got on board (for the most part) with the Civil Rights movement. Which is why I think that much of the criticism levied against the Kony 2012 movement and the Invisible Children organization is sour grapes. This org found a target and found a way to make people care or at least pay attention. I guarantee you that there are people who know Joseph Kony’s name that would NEVER have known under any other circumstance. And that cannot be a bad thing.
Awareness. It’s the key to change. It’s why the message for every Spike Lee movie is to “wake up”. Pay attention. Be aware of what’s really going on. That’s the premise of Kony 2012. If we were smart, we’d take a lesson from this organization and do the same damn thing with other causes. It’s why Occupy Wall Street both succeeded and failed. It succeeded because for a legit moment in time, everybody was talking about it. It failed because unlike Kony 2012, at some point, it was all just rhetoric and nobody really knew what the hell to ask for.
If you bring awareness to tragedy, at some point people have to do something right. You can’t stick your head in the sand forever. And to me, this method and the cause are worthy of note.
And to be fully honest, at first I was ready to write this entire thing off as more white guilt and liberal do-gooderism until I really started thinking about the fact that you know what, if that sh*t helps to change the world, then I’m all for it. Sometimes, those who seem the most annoying and obnoxious really do have their hearts in the right place and because they care that much, and are white, they’ll have the time, resources, and desire to see something through.
If that helps me get a home loan. Sign me up.
So, good people of VSB, what do you think about the KONY 2012 campaign and ensuing dustup and debate? Hell, do you think about it at all?
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I WATCHED THE WHOLE VIDEO WHERE’S MY ACTION KIT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3
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