“The only thing the video is missing is including “When a Hero comes along” by Mirah as the soundtrack every time a white person appears.” //
“we can’t separate the medium from the message – and I can’t ignore this message and just focus on the (admittedly great) storytelling techniques. If we don’t ask critical questions, then who will?”
- contributors to a charity campaigning list
I’ve collated some links to a spread of articles that criticise/question the Kony2012 campaign, both in terms of tactics and messaging… but first, a paragraph from a friend of a friend (Adam Hudson):
That film had no political, cultural, or historical context/analysis at all. No discussion about the role the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, global capitalism, foreign powers carving spheres of influence in Africa, and Western support of African dictators, like Musevini in Uganda or Mobutu in Zaire/Congo play in the current malaise (war, famine, poverty, instability, etc.) the African continent faces. It also portrayed African people as helpless victims in need of white Western saviors (another problem I had with it). Kony is obviously a war criminal but if we’re going to talk seriously about Uganda and Africa, we need context and critical analysis to understand what’s going on and find solutions to these pressing problems.
TheDailyWhat on Kony2012 — a quick overview of the concerns.
We got trouble (Visible Children) — a reasoned critique of the charity Invisible Children and what they are advocating for.
let’s talk about kony — on stories of self, colonialism, and intervention.
Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign — it would be unfair to not include their defence, though I think Invisible Children’s “defences” don’t really hold water.
Catching Joseph Kony — from someone who’s worked with Invisible Children. More supportive of the work they do on the ground, still critical of the methods.
Bad guys, good guys, and the people in between — more of a fleshing out of the “white saviour” message the film promotes.
This whole palava shows limitations with “clicktivism” and social media as a method of social change: items can go viral (especially video) on the back of their power to incense, but there is little rational engagement with the subject matter at hand, with people sharing campaigns that have actively damaging at worst/entirely ineffective at best ends.
The real challenge now is to refocus the discourse onto voices from the ground in Uganda and across the region (CAR and DRC), and to critically assess what the best way of supporting grassroots movements there are. Articles like Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions by Musa Okwonga, or A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012! by @tmsruge, are probably a good place to start.
P.S. if you’re looking for a place to donate, I’ve seen War Child, MSF and “Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe at St. Monica’s in Gulu” mentioned as good and relevant causes in the area that the LRA works (hat-tip Laura Seay).
Great roundup, Sami.
Watching the infamous video for the first time last night, my distaste was not really based on the medium, because I do believe that new media has its place, plays a very important part; though it is very cheesy when one cause or corporation tries to co-opt the phenomenon as its own in a weird post-modern fictionalising kind of way. I think the issue is a genre issue, this was not a documentary, not a political/historical overview like you’d get from Adam Curtis. It’s SO American, it seemed like a recruitment for a weird cult, but this wasn’t really a media problem - definitely a genre problem.
And it didn’t have any political/historical context, I suppose it does assume its audience is ‘dumbed down’/ has no attention span for any real content.
I can’t abide people using this as yet another chance to bash new-media or new technologies or new online cultures because it seems like a matter of genre or content issue rather than something inherent to the medium.