It is no surprise that the Kony 2012 campaign became an immediate phenomena and instant topic on Facebook and Twitter. Being the emotion crammed video that it is, the short film manages to truly tug at the heartstrings of individuals worldwide, lending viewers to a belief that they have the power to make great change and ‘Make Kony Famous’. “Who are you to end a war”, I’m telling you “Who are you not to”- Jason Russell, Co founder of Invisible Children, KONY 2012 video
Recent debate, however, has shifted the media’s representation of the Kony cause, moving from the initial ‘Wake up call’ of Ugandan Joseph Konys inhumane practices, towards a far more pessimistic portrayal; the idea that the Kony campaign is a phony. The invisible children organisation is “being attacked — not by Kony, but by critics whose voices are raised louder about this video than they ever were by Konys atrocities.” -Dan Pollotta (2012), Harvard Business Review, “The Kony 2012 Controversy”
Being a part of this participatory culture, I am sure you have all heard about the criticsm and reasoning behind the Kony missions label as a phony, such as its neo-colonialist agenda and the mystery of where the proceeds are going, therefore I have refrained myself from merely stating the facts and will endeavor to entice you through briefly exploring the channels of media used in the representation of this so called yet debatable scam.
(Image Source: Steven Rudd, Twitter Post, March 31st 2012)
Not only this particular image which was posted on Twitter, but numerous images of the same structure have gone viral on the Internet, becoming a somewhat outlet for presenting the campaign in a negative light, drawing back to the title of this post: “Make Kony famous, or make Phony famous?”. This statement simply recognises the far greater effort being placed into proving that the Invisible children organisation is a fraud as opposed to focusing on the slogan make Kony famous to stop social injustice.
Face to face communication has also portrayed the Kony cause under this negative light, in which I overheard a conversation between two teenagers on the train to University relaying phrases such as “I swear this Kony dude isn’t even in Uganda anymore” and “the whole thing is a dud”. On social networking site Tumblr an anonymous blogger has provided an insight into her negative take on Kony 2012; “Can we rank the problems of the world in order of importance? I think that the news seems to do this for us. Kony 2012 is now more important than world hunger, lack of clean water, rape, murder.”
Fraud or not, the Kony movement has set a benchmark for social media use, enabling all citizens of modern participatory culture to engage with and form their own opinion on the Kony matter itself. Make Kony famous, or make Phony famous? With the tools and ability to execute both perspectives, the choice is yours.
(Quick Edit: 3/4/12)