The “Kony 2012” video has reportedly become the most viral video on the Internet. It took only six days to hit 70 million views, just beating out Susan Boyle, the “Britain’s Got Talent” star, whose video took nine days to reach that number of views. It is astonishing how fast the video circulated, especially since its total running time reaches 30 minutes. Yet, after so much mixed media attention, it’s hard to determine if the video is really about the children it is said to support.
I saw all of the hype on Facebook and Twitter, so I gave the video a chance. Most of the film was Jason Russell, the co-founder of Invisible Children, the organization behind the video, telling his son about Joseph Kony. Russell’s son is 5-years-old, so the video is easy enough to understand for anyone above that age.
According to kony2012.com, “Kony 2012” is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Kony famous, not celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.
The answer the video gives is to order a kit from Invisible Children that includes posters of Kony to hang up. This is far too simple of an answer for such a complex issue.
It is a serious issue, and the marketing that Invisible Children does with this video does not represent that.
The Invisible Children group has been criticized in the media for putting money toward their marketing campaign rather than to relief efforts for the people of Uganda. Many feel the need to donate to this cause, but few will ever see the results for those in Uganda.
The marketing tactics used are similar to those of many corporations. They use popular social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. They look to the “influencers” to spread the video by word of mouth. It even plays to viewer’s emotions, by putting Russell’s adorable son as a main part of the video. This is all a great use of marketing, but not necessarily great use of spending, when the focus should be on those who are affected by Kony. The message is important: Kony should be arrested for the crimes he has committed, but not just for the sake of living up to this video. It should be because of the injustices he has done to the people of Uganda.
In light of the video’s criticism, Michele Aweeky, president of the independent Temple chapter of Invisible Children said, “Kony has become a household name, and publicized criticism only allows for people to do their own research and make their minds up themselves.”
I hope that the millions who viewed this film actually do their research. Ordering action kits may seem like an easy solution for people jumping on the activism bandwagon, but what will the organization do when the fickle people of our generation turn to the next social media fad?
Sarae Gdovin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.