“The next 27 minutes are an experiment,” said the voice of Jason Russell, cofounder of international aid organization Invisible Children. “But in order for it to work, you need to pay attention.”
On March 5, 2012, Invisible Children released a 30-minute video entitled “Kony 2012″ to which over 80 million people have already “paid attention.”
The video was made as part of the efforts to track and capture Joseph Kony, Ugandan leader of the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army. In the words of the video’s description on YouTube, it aims to “raise support for [Kony’s] arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
Russell both narrates the video and provides his own personal stories and footage.
The Lord’s Resistance Army is a rebel group that has terrorized central Africa for over twenty years. In 2005, The International Criminal Court formally accused Kony of human rights violations, including the abduction of over 20,000 children, the majority of whom are indoctrinated and forced to serve as soldiers.
In the same year, Invisible Children, Inc., began its work in Gulu, Uganda. The viral “Kony 2012″ video is part of IC’s renewed effort to make Kony infamous by raising awareness and support.
As testament to the video’s success, over the past two weeks it has been viewed in almost every country of the world. It had over 600,000 comments until user comments were disabled last week.
Much of the momentum of “Kony 2012″ can be attributed to its time-sensitive language, which can give the impression that the issue is more recent and imminent than it is:
“Time is running out,” Russell’s voiceover claims. “To level with you, this movie expires on December 31, 2012, and its only purpose is to stop the rebel group the LRA and their leader, Joseph Kony.”
While “Kony 2012″ has been very successful in message proliferation and rallying support, it has also stirred up backlash and heated debate. Some critics have attacked Invisible Children’s credibility and argued that the clip is a propaganda piece advancing the US agenda in central Africa. However, others are inspired by the film’s popularity. “We are blown away by how fast the video spread,” senior Claire Pinches, leader of Eastern’s chapter of Invisible Children, said. “Although the campaign has received criticism, Invisible Children is making a difference. . . They have enabled our generation to do more than just watch.”
Huffington Post, History.com
InvisibleChildren.com, Telegraph.co.uk, YouTube