It's been a while since I've blogged, but hey - there's always a bright side. Instead, I've updated my YouTube videos - so why not give them a try! :D
Today’s topic: Kony 2012. Yes, I know, I’m headed into dangerous waters – but this is the internet, and if I can’t voice my opinions here, on my own blog, then I can’t voice them anywhere. Plus, it's been a few months since the video was posted so I'm going to assume that this blogpost won't ruffle too many feather. For those of you who don’t know – although I highly doubt that – there is a YouTube video online which is called “KONY 2012”. This is a ½ hour documentary produced by the company Invisible Children, and basically tells the story of the war in Uganda against the LRA (or the Lords Resistance Army) which is led by Joseph Kony, a man who managed to disrupt nearly 2 million lives. The film was very inspiring, and I did learn much about Kony, whom I hadn’t even heard of before the video. Now I know all about the war in Uganda, and how Kony 2012 is our last chance to find him before the world loses interest.
I highly doubt that.
Kony 2012 has not only been viewed over 85 million times, but has also gone down in history as the most viral YouTube video EVER. Indeed, the film got 3 million views in the first 24 hours it was posted – not bad for a small company trying to change things, right? I think it important to mention that Invisible Children has been receiving quite a lot of bad press recently. For those of you who don’t keep up with worldly affairs (or BBC, for us British), Invisible Children has got quite a lot of criticism for both their marketing and the fact that Jason Russell, the film maker and the narrator for the Kony 2012 video was found running around the street in California half naked.
Yes, you did just read that.
I was surfing the Interweb one day when I saw that Kony 2012 was back on the Twitter feed. I got curious, and decided to explore for the latest news – or, in my case, www.bbc.co.uk/news . Almost immediately I had found the source of all the flurrying. It turns out that Jason Russell was arrested by police and taken to the local hospital, where he was “diagnosed with a mental condition brought on by stress or trauma.” Poor guy. Apparently, he had some kind of psychotic breakdown and is not planning to spend several weeks in the hospital to recover. Needless to say, this doesn’t seem to have boded well for Invisible Children.
But maybe they already have enough to worry about without their lead filmmakers’ breakdown? Critics have heavily targeted the company, claiming about how money donated to them actually goes towards the company's personal needs. Again, I got curious, so I decided to go digging. And what I found was shocking.
Many people have assumed that at least 50% of all the donations goes directly to projects in Uganda. Well, I’m terribly sorry to burst your bubble, but not even 40% gets to Uganda in the first place. Records from last year show that 32% of all funds donated actually got to projects in Uganda, with the rest going to staff salaries, travelling expenses and making films. I decided to save you the time and made some calculations – from last years’ earnings of $8.8 million dollars for the company, only $2.8 million actually made it to Uganda. Sorry, but I’m pretty sure – and this is just my opinion – that more than this should be going to the Ugandans.
Speaking of the Ugandans, I’m not sure whether you are aware but actually quite a lot of Ugandans were offended by the video. After free screenings in Lira, a town where the LRA once terrorized thousands of people, Invisible Children were forced to close the free screening after “overwhelming negative reactions”. By this I mean that food was thrown both at the screen and at the African Volunteers Group who were running the cinema. Ugandans failed to understand “why there were so many white faces in the video, or why Kony needs to be made famous.”
This comes from the people who have been terrorized by Kony. For goodness sake, Ugandan officials have released several statements declaring that Kony is no longer a threat! He’s not even in Uganda! He has at the most several hundred followers left in the LRA. A government spokesman actually said, “They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300.”
So what do you think? I think that they have good intentions, and they haven't done too badly so far, but to be quite honest, I think we have a long way to go. So congratulations on making Kony famous – you’ve achieved your goal. Now to actually find him. Good luck, Invisible Children.
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t actually want anyone to be offended by this post. As I said above, this post is my opinion on what the world does.