Kony Part II: Beyond Famous – and beyond our help
Just a few short weeks ago, what seemed like the entire Western world was talking about Kony 2012. In Australia, television stations took full advantage of the phenomenon – one channel even aired the movie in full. It was all my friends – on Facebook and in real life – were talking about. This was going to change the world.
But in the short time that has passed, a truth has emerged. Not everything is ever as it seems. The organisation behind the Kony 2012 campaign was exposed to severe scrutiny. The pressure of such instant fame exacted itself on Jason Russel, the Invisible Children filmmaker, who suffered from a very public episode resulting from exhaustion.
This past week, Invisible Children launched another video – Kony Part II: Beyond Famous. This was clearly an attempt to clear the air, as the opening to the video fully recognised the criticism much of the media gave. Kony Part II shows what Invisible Children has already done in Uganda, shows the violence of the LRA, shows that negotiations and diplomatic attempts have failed, and depicts a bigger picture of the importance of activism (which I will never deny).
There is also recognition that the African Union has united a force to hunt the LRA, who are still active in four countries. The video recognises that the LRA’s force is only 250 members, and they have killed 2400 people in four years.
What the video does do, above all, is prove that the type of marketing of Kony 2012 may not be as successful as we all thought. The new video didn’t show up on my Facebook news feed. No one was talking about it. No one wanted to instantly get out their smart phone and watch it when I told them.
Furthermore, Kony Part II is proof that in this digital age where social media rules, our attention spans are so short that the original Kony 2012 didn’t keep us engaged for long enough or do what it intended. People may have shared the video, they may have bought the action kit, they may have clicked ‘Join’ on their city’s Cover the Night event page. Then we started to forget. We needed a reminder, one that in two weeks we should be out there putting up posters across our cities to raise awareness for an African ‘warlord’ that we should want hunted down – that is the white man’s burden, after all.
But if the African Union force is already looking for the LRA, and diplomatic and other military means have failed, what is the point of Cover the Night? We already know about Kony – so do our policy makers. In my city, Perth, Western Australia, the Lord Mayor has warned people against littering and defacing the city on April 20. Once people are aware, especially those who make the decisions regarding international relations, what else can the common man do? Sure, donate your money to help victims, but our collective responsibility has an end-point when we live in a world where the decision makers are so far removed from the people.