KONY 2012: When Red, White and Blue hide shades of grey

Have you seen the KONY 2012 video yet?

It’s long. Here’s the summary:

I know that’s an unfair comparison to make, when Invisible Children are clearly doing a smashing job of attention-raising and attempting to make a real difference. However, there are very strong, very legitimate criticisms of the campaign.

I urge you to read a summary of the arguments for and against, in very plain terms. There’s a good piece in the Independent too, and a rather more scathing criticism from 2006 (yes, 6 years ago a similar viral campaign happened).

I don’t know anywhere near enough about this situation to make an informed judgement, but it seems that those who do are calling for second thoughts on this campaign. It’s a brilliant piece of viral marketing with a worthy agenda. But I’m definitely not convinced that the solution Invisible Children are advocating for (the Ugandan army gearing up to kill Kony) is a good one.

What I can commend them on, though, is bringing the issue to mainstream spotlight. I just hope that the West doesn’t swallow it hook, line and sinker as another ‘project’ we can ‘fix’ by applying our evening time and placards, when the problems in Africa are even thornier and more difficult to solve than the myriad social issues in our own backyards (which we struggle to fix).

Please. Don’t dismiss this all as too hard to understand, and don’t be too cynical. You don’t HAVE to take a side, and not acting now is not your failure. Do look into it, and take the time to reflect on how you act, whether similar issues (at different scales) are present in your country, and think about how you can find out useful pathways to helping people. Awareness raising is good. But let’s be aware of the grey areas, not just the red, blue and white (in any configuration).

If you have any thoughts on this – the issue itself, Invisible Children, problems in Africa, mass communication on the internet – I would really like to hear them. Or, if you’ve seen interesting people talking about it, leave links! Just don’t put too many in one comment or the spam filter might snag on it…

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Categories: communication, Politics, Problems, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “KONY 2012: When Red, White and Blue hide shades of grey

  1. Mary

    As an American, I am not impressed with this…FUCK NO!

  2. Ciaran

    Concise and well put Dave. Reserving judgement until you know every side of an argument is the mark of a reasonable person. I will admit I’ve heard skeletal details of the whole thing, as I’m sure most on the internet have before jumping on the bandwagon. All this campaign is doing by making him so widely known and thought about, is setting him up or martyrdom.

  3. Chris

    I think it is a mistake juxtaposing all that is bad and hypocritical in the US (Fuck Yeah!) with the IC campaign against Kony, however many flaws you may think it has. I followed the links and read the discussions. I do agree that it is important to be well-informed about an issue before jumping on a band wagon, however emotive and compelling it is.

    As for the Cris comment above, who is the Troll? Did you find out more about the issue? Or you just reacting because someone attacked your precious US?

    • Chris, I just deleted the other comment, not sure what it was trying to say.

      Also – for the sake of nuance – I wasn’t trying to juxtapose the bad things about America that was highlighted in the song against Kony, but more link the flag-waving patriotism and apparent faith that America can do anything: “Terrorists your game is through, cause now you have to answer to: AMERICA!”. They present no evidence that the glare of popular public American scrutiny can actually lead to positive changes in complex, foreign human rights situations.

      KONY is an experiment, like they say the the start of the video, to their credit – can getting 16 celebrities with no expertise and credentials, but lots of popular influence, really make a difference to such a complex issue? Does a viral campaign lead to arrest of a tyrant? Time will tell. But the back-slapping and self-congratulation throughout the video suffocated me more than a little.

      I was familiar with the LRA before this, though not in much detail, and even in a 30 minute documentary I learned almost nothing more about them. No timelines, no tactics, no current situation, no history of conflicts; and IC’s action plan seemed to just stop at the point where it should have been starting to explain itself and the consequences of it being achieved.

  4. Vanessa

    Awareness is a start. I have no problem with people using social media to get a ground swell of support

    Here are two links. One from CNN Piers Morgan,
    http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/09/clips-from-last-night-the-men-behind-kony-2012-address-joseph-kony-and-deflect-criticism/?hpt=pm_bn3

    and the other – LRA Crisis tracker that students set up
    http://www.lracrisistracker.com/

  5. Vanessa

    …And they are not advocating for him to be killed, they want him to surrender or be captured

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