So you probably woke up this morning to discover that something called Kony 2012 had taken over the internet. In case you haven't worked it out yet, Kony 2012 is a film produced by the charity Invisible Children, raising awareness about the child soldiers of Uganda. Since it was released on YouTube on March 5th it's been viewed several million times. Here it is.
And that's good right? Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army abduct children and convert them into murderers. They've been doing it for years and it's good that someone's trying to raise Kony's profile so that American politicians might be forced into doing something about this endless tragedy, right?
Well, it's more complex than that. You might have noticed that when ANYTHING happens on the internet, there's always someone waiting to crap all over it. Sure, quite offten they're crapping all over teenage girls by calling them sluts, but every now and then they'll take a big shit on something that deserves it, like SOPA. Basically, if there's a meme, there'll be a bunch of people who hate it.
Well, predictably, some people are shitting on Kony 2012. I'm sure the people behind the film and the charity would just brush criticism off as thoughtless cynicism. Afterall, once something is so big that Rihanna's tweeting about it, some people are going to be suspicious, jealous and try and ruin it, no matter what. Some people are just contrarians, right?
That said, here are the major criticisms of Invisible Children and Kony 2012.
1. Invisible Children are a financially questionable organisation
These figures have been circling.
Now I don't really understand what that all means. 89 grand does seem like a sweet wage, but does that matter so much? That their expenses are high compaired to their revenue isn't too surprising, either. The Kony 2012 manifesto is to raise awareness. People are donating to raise the profile of the Ugandan plight, and, overnight, thanks to a film on YouTube, millions more people were made aware of it. Success, then.
2. It is not financially accountable
According to some of the internet, Invisible Children refuse to co-operate with the Better Business Bureau - an organisation who investigate the ethical nature of companies.
Also, according to the Charity Navigator (a website I was unaware iof until today), it's Invisible Children are unimpressively transparant.
3. It lies
According to an article published by the Council on Foriegn Relations:
In their campaigns, such organizations [as Invisible Children] have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA's use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony -- a brutal man, to be sure -- as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.
4. They want to flood the place with weapons.
OK… This is a picture of Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole, the filmmakers who began Invisible Children and Kony 2012.
Oh dear. Bad idea guys. I mean, don't get me wrong, if VICE ever see fit to send me to somewhere like Congo, the first thing I'll do is get a Facebook picture of me with a gun. But then I'm not lobbying for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, (who, I'm informed, have been accused of rape and looting), to be armed by America.
Anyway, I'm not an expert, but isn't the history of arming one group of guys to go and kill another group of guys in some far away country nearly always a really shitty idea? Doesn't it lead to ethnic cleansing, extreemism, revenge, tribal conflict and general misery? Maybe not, as I say, I'm no expert.
5. They're douchebags.
Now when I first watched the Komy 2012 video, there was a horrible pang of self-knowlege as I finally graspsed quite how shallow I am. I found it impossible to completley overlook the smug indie-ness of it all. It reminded me of a manipulative technology advert, or the kings of Leon video where they party with black families, or the 30 Seconds to Mars video where all the kids talk about how Jared Leto's music saved their lives. I mean, watch the first few seconds of this again. It's pompous twaddle with no relivance to fucking anything.
However, the central message: Stop this cunt Komy killing and raping innocent children in their thousands, is a very powerful one. So I looked beyond my snobbery.
But, maybe I was wrong to. Chris Blattman, who's an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale, wrote this blog about Invisible Children, effectively just calling them twats. He starts by dissing their 'hipster tie' and cowboy hats, before moving on to accuse them of being post-colonialists.
So, now I'm in a bit of a quandary. I'm worried that the real reason I went seaking out the downsides to the Kony 2012 phemonenon was simply because I'm a snob who enjoys bursting people's bubbles and because I find the promotional film they made for it embarrassingly produced. What a horrible reason that would be to ignore a charity.
The film Kony 2012 began because the filmmakers went to Uganda and met a young boy so traumatised by his experiences that he was contemplating suicide. Confronted with the grotesque reality of the attrocities, the Western filmmakers did what I hope I'd do, and resolved to help. No matter what. With that in mind, does it matter if they get paid well? Does it matter if they massage the facts? Does it matter that their charity isn't completely accountable? Does is matter that they're naive prats who think it's the white man's job to save Africa? Or is that all just pompous hypothisising by Westerners with enough freedom, information and education to look down on a simple, kind act?
Isn't it better to just stop criticising and start helping children in need? Or is that the kind of blind interventionist atitude that throws countries like into Afgahnistan into very very long wars?
I don't bloody know. Soz.
Thanks to all the blogs and people on reddit who I ripped off.