Kony 2012 DismantledSubmitted by Marc Clair on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 21:27
Yesterday when I groggily opened my eyes and did my pre-rolling-out-of-bed iPhone Merry-Go-Round (Email, Facebook, Twitter, Repeat), I noticed on the 'ol Facebook feed something to the effect of "3,236 of your friends posted about Kony 2012" (Editor's Note: Actual numbers may be made up) along with a video of the same title. Being the go getter about town that I am, I didn't have time to watch the video throughout the day, but I became more intrigued as I saw it reposted over and over. The general gist I got from reading some random comments was "Joseph Kony is this evil mofo in Uganda, captures children and turns them into soldiers and sex slaves, we need to get the word out." This all seems like a worthy enough cause, and in recent years we've seen political speech often go "viral" on the internet and turn into visible real life action: The coordination of the Egyptian protests using social media, websites going "dark" for a day to protest SOPA, and of course the campaign of Ron Paul, which essentially owes it's existence to social media and the grassroots viral marketing of his supporters. But perhaps to a fault, I'm often skeptical of "causes" until I've fully researched them. Sometimes they are legit, sometimes they are complete scams, and often the truth lies somewhere in between. I decided to reserve judgement until I'd actually sat down, watched the video with my dual Openmindedness/Skepticism glasses on, and done a little research.
As I lay in my bed with a delightful glass of Jack Daniels and click my YouTube play button, I was immediately struck by the slickness and high production quality of the video. I was expecting some sort of grainy documentary footage from deep in the heart of Africa, but stylistically it felt more like a commercial or an MTV "True Life" show. Which isn't to say that's a bad thing: regardless of what the message is, the first thing any effective marketing campaign needs to do is reel in the viewer and keep them interested, which is especially true of a video 29 minutes in length. And the producers do an absolutely brilliant job. Our "story" begins immediately catering to our most primal human emotions with touching scenes of rescues of disaster victims and a deaf woman using new technology to hear for the first time amongst others interspersed within images of social media such as YouTube and Facebook. Before we know what hit us we are quickly parlayed into images of the Egyptian revolution. The message is clear: people have the power to do incredible things to help others and our social technologies are giving people greater power than ever. All good so far.
From here we are introduced to our narrator, Jason Russell, via video of the birth of his son and a nice little "I'm playing with my son and ain't he the cutest" montage. Partway through this montage is where I find the first red flag that made me question what this video was really going to be all about. While speaking of how his son dreams of being in movies, there is a graphically added image of a missile and subsequent explosion to emphasize the young boy's movie fantasies. Now many will say that I'm reading way too into this, but I find it very odd that within the first few minutes we have an image of war slipped into our happy-go-lucky father-son montage. But I decide to do as many others will and continue to watch to see where they're going with all this. We then see a brief clip of Mr. Russell speaking to a group of young men and women and saying "Who are you to end a war? I'm here to tell you, 'Who are you not to?'". Still no specifics, but no argument with what I'm hearing. As early twentieth century writer Randolph Bourne wrote ,"War is the Health of the State", and with The State being completely anathema to liberty, this lion considers himself staunchly anti-war. So I'm listening.