Kony 2012, a critical analysis

“The mass media now operate more like a global village idiot, deeply ignorant and easily led”
Nick Davies, “Flat Earth News”

“Idiots are fun. No wonder every village has one”

This blog is aimed about talking about pop culture. But it is not limited to the entertainment industry, my goal is to talk about popular topics, issues and stories. How the are presented, formed and the tools that are being used to do so.
And one very good example is Kony 2012. I have probably been living under a rock for the last several years, because I have entirely missed it. I was told by a friend quite recently and he asked for my opinion after I get myself familiar with it.

I watched the video with great interest, because 1., being interested in the story for it was new to me and 2., because I am highly interested in video and clip making as a whole (because of my studies in media and journalism studies in the uni).

I am going to assume that you already know about the story.
I am going to assume that you already have an opinion on the topic. So I am going to directly proceed analysing this.
If you haven’t seen the video, you can follow my link HERE.

I am also going to assume that you have google the following search terms and have read what you have found. I am ging to assume you are going to spare me the wailing.
“musiveni human rights abuses” <- the guy everyone wants to send tons of money and weapons to.

“where is joseph kuny” <- seriously, where is that guy? Is he in Uganda? If not or he is dead, then what?

“history of african colonialism” and/or “efforts to bring africa into the 1st world” <– not a short story.

We in the clear? Cool. Let’s proceed.

The video is very, very  emotional. It’s extremely well crafted, creating a very strong emotional response from the viewer. It looks like a documentary, with the voice behind the scene, with the fly on the wall point of view and camera work, with us seeing only the person answering the questions, thus creating closeness between the viewer and the interviewee, with the viewer believing that the interviewer, who is invisible, thinks and sees the things the same way the viewer does. It can easily fool the viewer, because it is using techniques which are associated with truthfulness and sincerity in film making, because it looks raw and unedited (though it couldn’t have been further from the truth).

The video is filled with jumps between happy, young, attractive people and others who do not look like that. We are shown a lot of social media, particularly Facebook. It is social online activism in the most pure form that can be. We see a very start and dark dichotomy. A happy, well fed blond kid living in the US (where supposedly the kid is the standard how children are treated there, though that is so very far from the truth as well) and on the other end, we see a scared, crying, skinny black child from Uganda.
It is emotional and the emotional response is the goal of this video. NOT informing the viewer… but manipulating him in order to get him or her or them involved.

(a good rebuttal of Kony 2012)

See… there are not many facts in the video about Kony that we are presented. We are repeatedly told about what a monster Joseph Kony is. We are told what he does with children, turning them into child soldiers or sex trafficking, killing them. And yes, Joseph Kony IS a monster. When he is dead, the world will be a slightly better place. BUT this video and this “project” are not the answer. By buying a bracelet you are NOT doing any good whatsoever. Nor by painting a wall about it.

The story is supposedly requiring a “global” reaction. However, I, who mostly live in the virtual reality that internet is, have never heard of it. The people shown in the video are all over the world… but not quite. We see many people from the US but none from less wealthier countries, though Internet is everywhere. And the reason… nobody bothered to target and speak about it to other people. Which makes me very paranoid about this.

The reasons for the state in Uganda is not only Joseph Kony’s. There are complicated social, economical, historical and political reasons which are a lot bigger and a lot older than him. None of which are even mentioned in the video. We see the story entirely trough the eye of a middle class, white American who is an outsider of the story, like an observer. It is more like a National Geographic article than a video about a social issue. We do not see people from Uganda talking and discussing this. We see however, a lot of “we, the good white people are going to save you from this bad man” and the way to do it… the way to “liberate” them… is via guns and soldiers. Because the US has a sparkling record of “liberating” countries so far and because they do it from the goodness of their heart.
Hugo O’Doherty speaks lengthy about this and I just want to point out something… IC want to support WEAPONS being given to a government whose leader has already been using child soldiers since the 1986. Obviously there is an issue here.
Because the issue could be solved with a bullet and not with work, work, work on social, economical and policial problems, which there are more than enough? How exactly does that work?

Because donating a few dolars will solve the problems… when only LESS THEN 30 percent from the donations go to the intended goal – UGANDA? How does that work? (you can compare how good charities look and work like here)

The video is very misleading and troublesome, it is emotional but not logical. We, the viewers are Gavin, the kid, who is told by its father that something bad is being done by a bad man and he needs to be stopped. The kid is completely uncritical, it is coming from the mouth of his father. So… he believes him… and we are supposed to believe him too. There are no facts, no data, no research, no information where we can learn more.
The story is presented in black and white. It is completely ignoring complicated issues… we are told and treated as a bunch of five year olds about such a complicated topic. And that is worrying.

I am going to finish this text with a comment of a dear friend of mine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_PBSUCCESS (I personally think this case should be in every history book in the world ). I know wiki is not a good source of info, but it is easy enough to check this out. The problem is the lack of voice – IC children shows mostly 1 voice about the given problem, and that is the voice of a person, who is very far away from that problem. A bigger part of the “documentary” is dedicated to the director’s 5 year old son, than to the 3 people of Uganda the director interviews. Native Americans didn’t have a voice. So did a lot of other people in various parts of the world in various times of history, as the world was too big for individual voices to be heard. However, today(or in the near future) this might change, as the world is getting smaller by the minute. Trough internet and social media, individual voices from a far can connect in a single outcry, making them heard and giving people who didn’t have a voice before, the right to speak. The problem is that people with access to information should be educated to research the voice they listen to, and research it in detail, before deciding to give their own voice for the given cause. The access to information which we have is a privilege, which we shouldn’t blindly throw away – which is why there is the stop ACTA group, the demonstrations against ACTA and censorship and so on. But it also means that we have no excuse not to use our right of information, research, and stay informed, before taking action. And I think checking out where our information comes from, or who’s voice it is that we are listening to is the first step. Especially if that voice sounds too simple, one sided and expensive.

P.S. Kony 2012, the drinking game

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