KONY 2012: It’s About Hope, not Joseph
Posted by Nicolas Cable
Over the last two weeks, two controversial short-documentary films have been released to the public that have raised a lot of questions in millions of hearts regarding the nature and purpose of being human. The first video is a component of the KONY 2012 campaign orchestrated by the organization Invisible Children. The video, as with the campaign, focuses on the ruthless leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Joseph Kony. Kony has been charged by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Specifically, the draconian rebel leader has been known to use horrible tactics, including abducting children: the boys to be trained for war and the women for sexual pleasure.
The video in just the last two weeks has had estimates of over 100 million views between YouTube and Vimeo social media sites alone. The video has gone viral on Facebook, Twitter, national and international television channels, and pretty much any other public medium. However, as KONY 2012 exploded into global consciousness, countless individuals, organizations, and news channels have made arguments pointing out the oversimplification and complete-bias of the filmmakers’ product. Clearly, Invisible Children has taken these critiques to heart as they have created a page on their website responding to these concerns.
One of the biggest concerns, besides the perceived naïve approach of the organization attempting to inspire young people to make a difference halfway around the world, is that this is another example of the privileged world attempting to liberate the incapable oppressed world from their unfortunate disposition. While this critique is not only valid and one I also struggle with as a social justice activist, the KONY 2012 campaign video is also not primarily about Joseph Kony: it’s about hope.
Hope is what the Obama 2008 campaign was built on. There were specific aspects of then Senator Obama’s political platform that appealed to people, but what was most inspirational and intriguing, at least for me and I know others, was a vision of hope and renewal after nearly a decade of darkness and despair. Presidential Obama’s reelection campaign released a video a few days ago that chronicles some of the President’s accomplishments during his first three years in office. This has also sparked a lot of critique from people on both sides of the political divide, regarding its objectivity. Academy Award winning filmmaker, David Guggenheim, in an interview defending his seemingly complete positive spin on the Obama Presidency, shared that he was simply in awe of the President.
I am in awe of Jason Russell, the KONY 2012 filmmaker, not more nor less that Barack Obama. Why? Because even among all of the controversy and all of the speculation, Mr. Russell has sparked a movement, an urge to move and act, in tens of millions of people, especially young people, all around the world. In the short video released by the organization, in which they express their gratitude for all the support and their response to the concerns of their critics, Russell shares something that corroborates what I feel is the genius of leaders like Russell and Obama. Russell tells his viewers:
“This story transcends borders, it is not about politics, it is not about the economy; this is about human beings, human beings waking up to the potential and the power they have. That’s what KONY 2012 is about and it’s just the beginning because we are starting something that cannot be stopped.” -Jason Russell
These two men are wanting us to be inspired by the human capacity to love and act with compassion. I appreciate a good critic, but I also appreciate when we can step aside for just a moment and stand in awe at the true potential of human nature and the true reality of human goodness. So, while there is a lot of complexities to the KONY 2012 campaign and the last three years of President Obama’s administration, I stand in awe, inspired and ready to take action, rooted in my belief in the power of love and hope.
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Posted on March 18, 2012, in Politics, Popular Culture, Service and Social Action and tagged Controversy, Hope, Human Nature, International Politics, Invisible Children, KONY 2012, President Obama, Social Media, Uganda. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.