In 1970 Gil Scott-Heron wrote a song and poem called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” detailing how the true revolution of the people will not be sponsored by corporate America. Scott-Heron blasted America’s obsession with sugary sodas, bad TV and racial injustice. Scott-Heron believed that the powers-that-be would always control how information was dispersed. He died in May of 2011 and didn’t get to see the Kony 2012 revolution that started earlier this month.
If you are a social network junkie like me, you’ve seen Kony 2012 posters and videos everywhere. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. YouTube. Everywhere. Started by Jason Russell, the Kony 2012 movement is being televised on the nightly news shows, tweeted, status updated and virally moving faster than a video about an adorable kitten.
Russell’s YouTube video about the crimes of Joseph Kony, a leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, has reached more than 50 million views. The filmmaker’s goal is to make Kony’s crimes against humanity, his kidnapping of children into his army and his selling of girls into the sex traffic scene as well-known as the new George Clooney movie in hopes that it inspires people to get off their butts and do something. That something is putting up signs, posters, banners, etc., all over your local town in hopes of making people aware of the monster that is Joseph Kony.
Within a few days, the Kony 2012 movement has inspired both fans and detractors. Facebook event pages have been filling up quickly with people promising to take on Scott-Heron’s April 20 challenge in hopes of helping bring awareness to Joseph Kony, whereas others feel this is a misguided or manipulating movement. Already dirt is being dug up on Russell and his Invisible Children charity orchestrating this movement. Pictures of him and other Invisible Children workers posing with Sudan People’s Liberation Army, guns held high, was the first of the attacks.
In fact, Associated Press photographer Glenna Gordon, who took the picture, spoke out recently to ABC News: “It just contributes to the stereotypes of kids messing stuff up by showing the worst of the worst and showing it without context,” she wrote. “It adds to the Invisible Children … mythology even while attempting to cast doubt on their practices. … At the end of the day, I do hope that all of this can make us look at Invisible Children with a more critical glance.” Russell claims the picture was taken as a gag photo to send back to friends and family.
Russell and Invisible Children are also being attacked for how they spend money. ABC News went on to add that even though Invisible Children has spent more than $8.6 million over the past 12 months, “only 32 percent went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.” Russell claims he needed to spend the money on awareness and to maintain relevancy in the West, where young adults are screaming for an opportunity to make a difference.
Others are complaining that Russell’s Invisible Children is secretly a Christian organization, and not an unaffiliated nonprofit like it claims. Russell says the goal was to “treat our children around the world the way we would treat our own children.” He goes on to add that the movement “was faith-based … [but] didn’t want to be defined that way. We are unorthodox and if you don’t accept the unorthodoxy of what we do, then you won’t get it,” he said.
Joseph Kony is not a new leader, but instead has been a force for evil for years. His laundry list of war crimes is beyond devastating. The fact that it took this long for America to show any interest is truly the saddest thing brought to light so far.
So what will the Kony 2012 movement do? Probably not much. Posters and YouTube videos don’t stop evil. But it is a start in the fight against apathy.
So maybe it won’t end injustice in Africa, but maybe, just maybe, something amazing will happen, and the revolution will, after all, be teletvised.