KONY 2012 – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


The Bad

Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the infamous guerilla group that used to murder and torture people for decades in Uganda.

Kony proclaimed himself the spokesperson of God and has been considered by some as a cult of personality. He was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Crime Court in 2005 but has evaded capture. He has also been accused by Ugandan government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become sex slaves and child soldiers. An estimate of 66.000 children became soldiers, which is quite the impressive army.

The Good

According to the wisest entity on the planet, Wikipedia, social movements are a type of group action. They are large, sometimes informal, grouping of individuals or organizations that focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.

There are countless ways in which a social movement can gather popularity and widespread notoriety, but in this day and age the most important of these ways is Social Media.

They don’t call it a viral video for no reason.

A viral video is a video (naturally) that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media, and email.

The Ugly

KONY 2012 is a short film released on the 5th of March 2012 with the purpose of promoting the “Stop Kony” charity’s movement to make African cult leader, indicted war criminal, fugitive, and spokesperson of God (self proclaimed) Joseph Kony globally known and arrested by the end of 2012 for his war crimes and use of child soldiers in said war crimes.

It sort-of succeeded.

The film spread virally and as of the 1st of March 2014, the film received over 99 million views and 1.3 million likes on YouTube, and over 21.9 thousand likes on Vimeo, succeeding in turning an African war criminal into a celebrity that is yet to be apprehended.

Well, such is life.

Since the video actually did reach a lot of people turning social media fanatics and would-be activists that couldn’t pinpoint Uganda on the map even if you highlighted it into supporters of the cause, spreading the word and sometimes changing their profile picture to a picture depicting the logo Kony 2012.

On the 21st of March 2012 Senators Jim Inhofe and Chris Coons put a resolution “condemning Joseph Kony and his ruthless guerilla group for a 26-year campaign of terror” forward. The resolution received the support of 37 senators, both Republicans and Democrats. One of the two resolution leaders, Coons, became aware of the situation after his daughters asked him what he was doing to stop Kony. Senator Lindsey Graham stated: “When you get 100 million Americans looking at something, you get our attention.”

Wasn’t that just lovely? Well…

The group that launched the video came under heavy criticism for over simplifying the events that undergo in the region and have been accused of promoting “slacktivists”, the term used for people that take actions that have little or no effect on the matter beyond making themselves feel good.

Some other points that were raised were the fact that they overestimated the number of Kony’s followers, the fact that he was spotted in the Central African Republic but the film just brushes with this notion, and one of the most important, the fact that just getting rid of this person, Kony, will not solve the problem of child soldiers.

Thus rendering the film useless.

The cause failed as interest started fading away; slacktivists lost interest in the cause and criticism made people doubt the accuracy of the information. The campaign had little effect other than raising awareness of the atrocities happening in Africa. The film producers tried again with a Part II but it had little to no success.


Sergiu Țopan


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