Thursday, March 8, 2012

KONY 2012

Every so often there's a current event or viral video that sparks the interest of many provoking uproar or some type of action. The other day I awoke to numerous facebook posts about the video posted below. People I knew urged others to share the video and seemed genuinely excited and motivated to take part in this new movement. One that I, of course, had to watch and see what all the fuss was about. If you haven't seen it, feel free to press play below:

Six minutes into the video, I wanted to cry for Jacob, the young Ugandan boy whose sad yet uplifting story is highlighted in the 30-minute film. It was edited perfectly, evoking both emotion and curiosity. So who's responsible for this superb video you may ask? The answer to your question is Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that claims to "use film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony's rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity." One thing's for certain, they've mastered the film and creativity part!

The organization started years ago after three filmmakers traveled to Africa for a film making adventure. They've since raised millions of dollars to fund their efforts however, like many other causes and movements, Invisible Children's #Kony2012 campaign is raising some eyebrows. With over 57 million YouTube views and God knows how many kits purchased since the film's internet debut, people are now beginning to wonder where the money they're donating is going. It has been said that only 31% of donated funds go toward helping those in Uganda and that the organization is money hungry.I must admit that when I initially watched the film I wondered what the narrator did for a living and when I realized that Invisible Children was his job I kinda gave the situation a side eye. Trips to Africa aren't cheap and neither are camera crews and equipment so I definitely understand how some of the funds donated can be used for those purposes. Instead of instantly vowing to donate "a few dollars" or buy a Kony2012 bracelet, I wanted to learn more about the cause.

I have been researching and will continue to read up on the cause and have found sites that suggest alternate organizations to donate to. My only issue is that many people allowed themselves to be drawn in by a creative marketing campaign. Yes, Jacob's story was sad and that little boy in the video was adorable, but wearing bracelets and shirts will help find Joseph Kony how? Is posting posters everywhere really going to make a difference? And what technological advancements are going to be made with this year's donations to find a man that is rumored to be dead? We should make an effort to ask questions before hopping on a bandwagon, that's all I'm saying. Kony's army has been active for over twenty years, but this is the first time many of us are hearing about it so I applaud Invisible Children for their ability to capture the hearts of many and raise awareness.

But still people are talking... While millions are in support of the cause, others wonder exactly what more money is needed for. Millions have been raised and used and the United States is apparently already involved so what's the real goal? Invisible Children has been criticized by the Better Business Bureau and rumors about most of the donations being used to fund the salaries of the three founders are spreading. YouTube has an abundance of people who are eager to express their opinions about the campaign and popular YouTuber, Jerry LaVigne, posted a humorous video to share his views.

What do I think?

I think this is yet another reason for people rally their energies toward a seemingly great cause without knowing very much about it. If you or anyone you know typed in your information and pledged money to Invisible Children after only seeing one video on YouTube, question your/their intelligence. If after researching the cause you found that it was still very much something you wanted to be involved in, more power to you! Rock your #Kony2012 bracelet and all that good stuff... What I don't appreciate is people who take the time to edit and share images like the one shown on the left to joke about the matter. Like seriously? Much like when people tweeted and facebooked to prevent Troy Davis' execution or rallied to support other causes that were popular in the past, I believe that the mass interest will soon fade. I hope that folks will prove me wrong.

What are your thoughts? Did you or would you pledge money to the cause? Are people being too skeptical and if there's anything else you'd like to add feel free to post it below.

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.