Two weeks ago I watched the “Kony” video and posted about it here on the blog. When and while I was watching it, a few thoughts did pop into my head… not only about how awful this Kony dude was but also what a wonderful thing this “Invisible Children” group had done. This video was spectacular. I thought that this film maker, Jason Russell, had done a great job. The message was clear, he told it in a way that we – and his five year old kid – could understand. The film quality was professional. Everything worked. In the end, it caused me to think that this was a reasonable argument for putting this bad dude, Kony, down.
That is exactly what the film was intended to do. In the days that followed, the video went viral. People I know were sending me links to the film and asking if I had seen this yet… that this was important and I should take a look. Of course, I had already been moved enough to post about it here with links and images. I was also now promoting this cause in a very small way.
There were also a lot of questions about whether or not money contributed to the Kony cause was going to the right place. There were questions about the timing of the film… why now when this guy has been doing this for so long and perhaps he was not even in Uganda any more. Were there some weird ties to the Ugandan government with this Invisible Children group?
I questioned some of this out loud at home this morning. The smarter people in the house reminded me that it was still a good cause… even though one of the creators, Jason Russell, had experienced some sort of mental breakdown “Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard.” There are also many other great causes out there in the real world that are presented to us in a magnified manner due to social networking. When I first saw the film, one of my thoughts was that I could expect great things from Jason Russell. He would be the hot new motivational documentary guy. He would be responsible for selling zillions of dollars worth of products, he would get people elected, he would be the new Ken Burns. Now he will also be remembered as the guy who may or may not have masturbated on or about vehicles in San Diego while ranting at passersby in his birthday suit… because he took things personally. Does he get a pass on this? Maybe. I suppose there is a lot of damage control going on at the Invisible Children headquarters right now. These people are probably pretty good at it too… they showed us that in the Kony film.
Another thought I had as I was posting about it 2 weeks ago was “should I be posting about this?” I wondered if it was something I really needed to help promote. It was so easy to do. Kony was a bad guy. Bad guys suck and we don’t like bad guys. We were told in the film that WE could do something about this. We could do this by passing the information along and make Kony FAMOUS in 2012.
I could do all of this from the ease and comfort of my chair right here in front of the computer. I would not have to go anywhere, spend any money, worry about some bad ass Kony coming to get me personally… so yeah!, let me throw a virtual rock at that fucker too! Did I really do anything? Did the 137+ million other people who also watched the film react the same way? Do great numbers of people clicking their mouse in solidarity get anything done? Sometimes they do.
If social media can be used to manipulate us into doing good things like stopping Kony or building a school somewhere or promote micro financing… it probably can also be used for some really shitty things as well. The thing is, if they are good enough and clever enough they can present a bad thing in a manner that causes you to think it is a good thing.
I believe that stopping this Kony guy is probably a good thing and that someone should have done this before now. I also believe I will try to be more critical of whatever bandwagon I jump on in the future… and that’s too bad because knowing that there are people out there whose job it is to manipulate me into believing in something – because they are really good at doing THAT – may cause me to be just skeptical enough to not participate in something in which I should.