Was KONY 2012 a Success?

These days, you can’t go anywhere without seeing this video on Twitter and Facebook.

The first time I saw it, I didn’t even give it a glance. I mean, it’s pretty long!
But then as I saw my friends sharing it, I knew that I had to watch. So I did.

For those of you that haven’t seen the video, please do. Otherwise, you won’t understand anything I’m about to say.

I myself had never heard about Joseph Kony before until this 30-minute film came out.
Invisible Children has made it clear that their main goal is to spread awareness about this man, rather than to aid the victims of the warlord’s actions directly. They’ve certainly accomplished this goal, I think. 80,000,000 views is a feat.

Several factors contributed to making this video viral:

1. It aroused emotion.
The overall tone evoked sympathy. The interviews conducted with Jacob were very moving, and I really felt the urgency of the situation. Points were clear-cut and easy to understand. Many video-viewers felt that they needed to take action now.

2. Simply support by sharing. 
At the end of the video, Jason Russell (the narrator) kept on stressing that the viewer could support the cause by sharing it online via social networking sites. If the video had asked to fill out a form, donate money, or take a survey, things may have been different. All of these things require more time and money. Instead, all they asked you to do was to click the “Share” button, and notify friends of the video.

3. High quality video
There was a lot of sophisticated video-editing. Graphic images and diagrams were used to make sure that the main intent of the organization is conveyed. (Like the domino effect used from 21:41~22:24) Also, the video was persuasive. Russell and his team must have spent hours thinking of the script. Anybody, after watching this video, would know about a man named Joseph Kony, and what can be done to stop him.

It’s heartbreaking to see all the children, some the same age as me, getting abducted overnight and being told to kill people. I don’t know what I would have done if I were them. Joseph Kony’s acts are an absolute violation of basic human rights.

On the other hand, there is criticism out there. Many people feel that the Kony 2012 video is oversimplifying the facts, so much that a majority of the viewers only have a vague conception that there is a “bad guy” called Kony, and that he needs to be captured. Since the video is centered on a Ugandan boy named Jacob, some even have misunderstood that Kony is still in Uganda (he has actually moved onto neighboring countries). Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi released a video on Youtube a few days ago, trying to correct part of the information given in the “well intentioned video”. Uganda is “not in conflict,” he says.

Others say that there are far more important things for the U.S. to do than to dispatch troops to catch a warlord in Africa. Health care and unemployment are huge problems that the country faces, and some just feel that now is not the time to be doing this.

Jason Russell recently became mentally unstable, running around naked in his neighborhood. One can imagine the emotional stress that he has had to endure following the release of the video.

Then what should be done? After all, the video has been receiving some negative reviews, but of course we can’t ignore the child soldiers. At this moment, I don’t know what to say. The options definitely are not black and white, or to “help them” and to “not help them”. It’s really a difficult matter, one that links directly to the historically long-disputed issue of human rights.