Last month, millions watched “Kony 2012,” a 30-minute internet video created by Invisible Children to raise awareness of Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony and create pressure to bring the accused war criminal to justice.
The film exposes viewers to some of Kony’s deeds, including the practice of abducting children and forcing them to become soldiers in his militia. Viewers are urged to sign a pledge calling for action to remove Kony from power, make a donation, and order an “action kit” containing bracelets, posters and stickers.
Tonight, Invisible Children is calling on its supporters to move to the next stage of their campaign to make Kony famous.
“This is the day when we will meet at sundown and blanket every street in every city until the sun comes up,” Jason Russell, who directed the film for Invisible Children, says in the video. “The rest of the world will go to bed Friday night and wake up to hundreds of thousands of posters demanding justice.”
While Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign has successfully raised awareness of Joseph Kony, critics charge that it marginalizes the people it is ostensibly trying to help while oversimplifying a problem with no easy solution.
TMS Ruge, an Ugandan social entrepreneur and co-founder of Project Diaspora, a group seeking to involve Africa in its own development, contrasted the Kony 2012 movement with last year’s Arab Spring protests.
“The ‘Kony 2012’ campaign is a different kind of beast. Here, the voice of the marginalized is minimized, and their agency to determine the course of their future is stripped,” Ruge wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “‘If you care enough to send $30 and wear this here bracelet, we will go and get rid of this evil for you. Trust us,’ it says. The world isn’t that simple or easy to fix. The campaign missed a huge opportunity to instill agency in Uganda’s civil society, to encourage citizens to act on their own behalf….But instead, Ugandans are left wondering, ‘What is this?’”
“The message Invisible Children is sending is that anybody can change the world, and it’s easy. Watch the movie, share it with your friends, tweet at some famous people, and if you get really excited, put up some posters,” writes Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada and author of the blog Visible Children. “I’d like to change their message slightly, although mine isn’t as catchy: Anybody can change the world, but it’s difficult. And you should do it anyway.”
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