The Kony 2012 Video had a huge global impact because it received so many views. There are a multitude of positive and negative results of this not only for the Invisible Children Organization, but also for the Ugandan government, the producer of the video, and even for this type of media-spurred activism.
In early January, 2013, Congress passed a bill that increased the amount of money and the types of criminals included in the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program with the hopes of increasing incentives to capture Kony. This demonstrates that the state is actually listening to the public and responded to the pressures for change created by this video.
Millions of people viewed the documentary, and as such, a huge deal of attention was brought to groups like the LRA, to movements like Invisible Children, to child soldiers, and to the role of the U.S. government in Uganda and other central African countries. While some people forgot about this issues the moment they clicked “share” on Facebook, the huge amount of exposure definitely sparked conversations about these topics and created a great deal of public interest, which is one of the first steps towards making a change.
Critics noted all of the attention the aforementioned groups were receiving, and used that publicity to suggest alternative ways to support child soldiers and refugees living in central Africa, like putting money towards child soldier recovery programs, rather than invest more in military personnel. They would not have had an audience to hear these suggestions were it not for the media attention this video created on these subjects.
The Ugandan government used the media attention to its advantage by using it as a platform from which to promote their potential for tourism and their need for more foreign aid. While the film misrepresented Uganda in many ways, the government used it to meet its own political interest in a way that benefited it. View the Prime Minister’s statement here.
Despite the great number of criticisms that Invisible Children’s video sparked, thousands of people are still invested in the Kony 2012 project and are committed to seeing him captured and seeing the lives of child soldiers improve. This is sentiment is exhibited in the following video, which was released March 5th, 2013, exactly one year after the original Kony 2012 video was released.
While the Kony 2012 video was extremely successful in the number of views it had, it was simultaneously exposed to a high degree of criticism. Many people found many flaws in the film and made accusations against Invisible Children, as well as Jason Russell, the film’s producer. This backlash caused views of the film to feel conflicted about their desire to be involved in the campaign, and thus contributed to the massive loss of interest in the film that came in the weeks following its release.
The problems cited in the video are presented as though they are from an authoritative source and are intended to educate, thus causing viewers to feel secure in their knowledge of the issues without doing their own research. In reality, the issues are highly simplified. Viewers may think they have accurate information on Joseph Kony, the LRA, and other groups mentioned in the video, when, in reality, they could have a skewed perception.
The video received a great deal of backlash, and as a result, Invisible Children, as well as the filmmaker and Invisible Children’s Creative Director Jason Russell, was discredited and received a great deal of negative attention, without consideration given to the accomplishments of the organization.
While social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, and Youtube are a great way to publicize films like Kony 2012, having access to such a wide audience often results in organizations focusing on fundraising. This can cause some organizations to focus more on effective fund-raising techniques, and less on what positive changes they can make with the money that they acquire. Invisible Children was criticized for this very issue.
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Information on the consequences of humanitarian aid during Hurricane Katrina can be found here.