A week ago, few people will have heard of Joseph Kony, but a viral video phenomenon has turned him into one of the most famous and talked about people on the planet.
The video, which aims to raise awareness of alleged abuse committed in Uganda by Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army went viral this week thanks to celebrity endorsements and social media websites. However, it has also been subjected to much criticism.
The 30-minute Kony 2012 video, which was produced by the campaign group Invisible Children reached over 70 million views online in the first week. Invisible Children’s website states that they aim to: “… make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
The video encourages people across the world to unite on April 20th to take action in ‘Cover the Night’ events across the globe.
A Facebook group called ‘KONY 2012 LIVERPOOL – COVER THE NIGHT’ has been set up to co-ordinate events in Liverpool, when people will meet at night in the city centre and put up posters, flyers and stickers featuring Joseph Kony. Over 3,700 people have so far clicked to say they will attend the Liverpool event.
Twitter has also helped the campaign gain momentum, with the hashtag #stopkony and the words Uganda and Invisible Children becoming worldwide trends. Some of the celebrities to tweet about the cause include P Diddy, Piers Morgan, Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey and Russell Brand.
Not all of the attention that the campaign has received has been positive, as many people have criticised the group behind the video.
Firstly, people have questioned what the money raised by the Invisble Children group is spent on, as last year only 32% of the $8.6 million raised went to direct services, according to the Guardian. Secondly, the campaign calls for people to put pressure on the US to continue working with the Ugandan military, who in the past have been accused of unethical practices.
Also, it has been suggested that the whole campaign is simplistic in its ‘solution’ to a complex problem.
Hannah Jones, the UK ambassador for Invisible Children told JMU Journalism: “It is likely that Cover the Night is going to take a different form that originally intended. Many people have been emailing me about how they can get involved, to which I’ve been encouraging them to get creative.
“The goal of the entire Kony 2012 campaign is to make the war crimes of Joseph Kony known to the masses, and any way that that can be done is fantastic – whether that be flash mobs, chalking, art pieces, dance parties, music events… there really is no limit.”