A reflection on KONY 2012


All it took was the arrangement of four letters and four numbers to create a sign that was to hijack all forms of social media, setting a benchmark for the new age participatory culture through challenging social and political ideologies on a global scale. This sign, as you may have all come to love or hate, is KONY 2012.

(Image Source: The Kony 2012 Is Here, Top News, 10/3/2012)

The KONY 2012 campaign has transitioned itself from merely the signifier to the signified, as the decoding of messages within the KONY documentary, the foundation for the KONY 2012 sign, have become a point in people’s lives where they then can identify change and this will often lead to decisions/ new ways of thinking/evolving. (Kligler-Vilenchik 2012)

Kim (2004) references David Morley’s Study of the Nationwide Audience (1980), which outlines three hypothetical positions a reader may occupy. The mainstream media has encouraged these readings through its various representations and reflections of the KONY 2012 phenomena Worldwide. Morley’s concept of the negotiated reading can be seen in accordance with the medias initial representation of the KONY operation in creating global awareness of Joseph Kony’s inhumane actions through establishing inquisitiveness and interest. Curiosity, in this instance, is the key, where the medias initial interpretation of KONY 2012 as a mysterious uprising encourages readers to not only accept the medias intended caution to the issue but to also modify this reading into a reflection of ones particular ideological views and opinions.

The dominant or hegemonic reading, detailed by Morley (1980), foresees an audience whom accepts the preferred reading into KONY 2012, this being the medias message for simply creating global awareness associated with social and political issues. In conforming to this dominant reading, those with a vested interest of the KONY crusade succeed in following Invisible Children’s owner Jason Russell’s mission to ‘Make Kony Famous’, where the social activist encourages citizens to “Watch the film. Sign the pledge. Join the revolution.”

This dominant reading into the global issue see’s the medias representation of the integral message, being the emphasis on individuals and communities have the capacity and influence to make the World a far more just place, through reblogging and sharing the KONY documentary to raise awareness.  Juxtaposed to this is the medias more skeptical portrayal of the viral campaign, perceiving the Invisible Children Organisations crusade as a fraud.

Readers of KONY 2012 have identified the campaign as hosting a neo-colonialist agenda, sparking debate as to where the proceeds of the mission are going, as Oysten (2012) mentions how last year the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This particular depiction of the viral KONY 2012 movement by the media harnesses what David Morley (1980) describes as an oppositional or counter hegemonic reading, encouraging readers of the global phenomena to reject the preferred pro Invisible Children stance just as the media has done on several occasions.

In keeping with both the media and the readers oppositional take on the issue, is the reporting of the campaign which utilizes a differed anti KONY stance, presented as a reflection of the detriment it has caused to Uganda’s social and economic instability. As presented in Global: Africa (2012) this reading notes just how reputation makers of KONY 2012 have attempted to taint with the lie that Uganda was still at conflict with the LRA. Despite Ugandan Ambassador Kamunanwire’s claim that the Ugandan community is free, safe and stable, the media continues to present to and encourage readers to indulge in this oppositional stance in an attempt to challenge individual perceptions within the modern mediated public sphere.

Through following the medias various perceptions and representations on the viral KONY 2012 movement, I have been able to distinguish and reflect upon just how differed readings can produce unique meanings of a significant issue. Steering away from Habermauss’s traditional definition of the public sphere, the 21st century embraces reality; the mediated public sphere of 2012 enabled by the diversification of media, where KONY 2012 has proved to set a benchmark for social media use on a global scale, enabling all citizens within the new age participatory culture to engage with and develop their own readings into the KONY matter in itself.




KONY 2012: False Assumptions


The words KONY 2012 have somewhat vanished into a state of non existence, in terms of the media, as what had once appeared to be an acute moral panic has become that of ‘old news’. Although, steering away from representations of the viral campaign as merely a pro or anti Kony stance, the media has recently begun documenting and reporting on the phenomena as a reflection of the instability of Uganda, “Considering the collateral damage it has done to Uganda’s reputation.” 

 The media, however, has falsely represented documentations of the viral campaigns movement, as Uganda’s Ambassador Perezi Kamunanwire mentions how over the last ten years, the number of tourist who visits Uganda has grown to over a million. This is clear proof that Uganda is a free, safe and stable country worthy of visiting and doing business with. In addition to this first hand account of Uganda’s stability, the #KonyisnotinUganda hash tag on social media site Twitter, was developed in attempts to emphasise that Kony is in fact absent from Uganda and has been for since 2006, where this can then bring one’s attention to the underlying questions imposed by Annika Neujahr:

  • Do these facts make the matter less urgent?
  • Do these arguments in any way invalidate the aim of the video?

 Whether the media has chosen to portray the phenomena as that of a detriment to the Ugandan community intentionally or unintentionally Uganda is not in conflict. Uganda is a modern, developing country which enjoys peace, stability and security, Ugandan President Mbabazi assured viewers, inviting anyone who doubts it to come and see for themselves, nevertheless the media continues to challenge ones perception of the country, alluding to the idea that Kony continues to cause outrage to the economy and society as “reputation makers of Kony 2012’ attempted to taint this with the lie that Uganda was still at conflict with LRA still within.

 Opening as a media outrage and transitioning into what Milton Allimadi describes as destructive propaganda, the KONY 2012 campaign has become that of a reflection of the moral panics destruction of the country Uganda, initiating and developing upon false assumptions in regards to the economic stability of the country as opposed to representing the campaign in a factual and objective manner.


BCM112 Reflection


Throughout the course of the subject Convergent Media practices, as a budding media enthusiast and prosumer, I have been able to extend my learning within the participatory convergent culture through reflecting on issues and concepts associated with this environment within weekly blog posts.

Week nines blog post, ‘The habitual remix’, I feel has been one of my most successful posts as it reflected on the remix and mash-up culture, exploring Kirby Furgusons’ notion that “everything is a remix”, as the argument which I communicated within this post was that it’s merely human instinct to copy, with majority of content becoming a remix of what once was, to some extent, original content.

‘The rise of the citizen journalist’ was my post from week nine, which I feel provided a structured argument on the importance of citizen journalists and their significant contribution within participatory culture. This argument was supported through identifying the importance of citizen journalism in the 2005 London Bombings as mainstream media broadcasted these amateur accounts of the event, alike to the news broadcasts of the Creamfields Music Festivals incident which presented footage filmed from festival goers mobiles phones.

 The final post which I submitted was ‘Beware; the trolls are here’, which I have also deemed as one of my most well written posts as it not only explored the concepts addressed in week tens lecture, being that of Internet trolling and the underlying misogyny attached to this discriminatory behaviour, but it reflected upon the issue of anonymity in regards to where the line is and should be in relation to open or closed comments on online content.

 These three selected blog posts I feel, have successfully addressed significant components within convergent culture, as through evaluating previous blog posts these final submissions managed to demonstrated reflections rather than accounts of theory as my prior posts had done.

Beware; the ‘trolls’ are here


I am almost certain that when reading the word ‘troll’ one will immediately jump to the pre conceived image of a gigantic ghastly monster. However, placing all preceding perceptions aside, I’m not talking about your traditional troll that lives under a bridge, I’m talking about something of a far more serious matter.

Internet trolling.

(Image Source: Bearman Cartoons 2012)

This malevolent practice is the anti social act of causing interpersonal conflict and shock-value controversy online, in which Vanessa Thorpe details how the trolls participating in these deeds feel they can express anything and everything as a result of merely hiding under a cloak of anonymity.

This concept in itself progresses into a debate;

  • Where is the benchmark between how open or closed online forums and comments should be?

In my opinion this benchmark has been surpassed, where, as stated by Stafford 2012, this anonymity just allows people to indulge in their worst tendencies, not only towards individuals but entire social groups, resulting in online forums, YouTube channels and blogs becoming bombarded by unnecessary hateful commentary.

Misogyny, being the hatred of women or the general dislike to the gender, has been described by lecturer Tanja Dreher as what has become a hot topic for thinking about the culture of online debate and interaction and what it means for gender issues, as this misogyny in itself has been exacerbated by the anonymous attributes of Internet trolling, enabling online users to comment anonymously on female columnists and bloggers posts and articles regardless of the emotional and psychological impact of the women. However, documentations of this abuse have been recently encouraged in which campaigns such as the #mencallmethings twitter phenomenon have enabled victims of this misogyny to not only voice their concerns but to fight back in an attempt to gain further recognition on the significant issue.

So there it is, in black and white, one’s brief individual stance on the vicious practice of misogyny, which sees an aggressive and abusive manipulation of women online as a result of Internet trolling. So, it only seems natural that I leave you all with just one simple message, Watch out for the trolls.