KONY 2012 criticisms may have aided Invisible Children’s cause

By Taurean Small

hether you support Invisible Children or criticize their business practices, you can’t deny the recent video’s, “KONY 2012”, viral success. In just two weeks, their YouTube video reached over eight million views and collected 1.3 million likes from viewers.

Packed with an empathetic message, critically acclaimed production value and an inspiring call to action to arrest Joseph Kony, Invisible Children succeeded in garnering media attention for its cause. What’s even more exciting about “KONY 2012” is the trend of youth involvement (or interest) in government and politics. Of course it’s a far cry from an 18 year old running for local or national office, but it is at least a crack at breaking down young American’s political apathy.

In just two weeks, the video managed to build a strong Internet presence. On YouTube, featured videos’ top comments were related to the “KONY 2012” video. On Twitter, not only was it the number one trending topic, it gained the support from major celebrity figures.

Singer Justin Beiber retweeted to his 18 million followers, “#Kony2012 is number 1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide!! See why… It might change ur life.”

Entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey tweeted to her 10 million followers, “Thanks tweeps for sending me info about ending #LRAviolence. I am aware. Have supported with $’s and voice and will not stop. #KONY2012.” A mention from Oprah alone is enough to get any bandwagon’s wheels rolling, but just as quickly as the video gained steam; it fell under fire from Internet critics.

Like any other hot topic, the media’s spotlight can and will expose imperfection. Many viewers expressed concern over where their donations were going, oversimplifying a complex issue and the accuracy of their claims about Uganda. Invisible Children has since issued a statement in response to those criticisms. So, did this backlash do any major harm? Not at all. In fact, the immense amount of criticism may have helped the cause even more.

Buying a bracelet and action kit from Invisible Children won’t end any wars, but it was never its aim. These items were tools for social awareness (if Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube weren’t enough), and with people questioning the credibility of the organization, many more people have independently researched the issue for a better understanding. Moreover, younger people are looking deeper into the issue. Something teenagers would’ve considered, “too boring to be concerned with” is now a hot topic.

Where do Invisible Children, supporters, critics and interested viewers go from here? I encourage everyone to follow the saying: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Invisible Children should also continue to address any misconceptions and misunderstandings they may have caused. It is quite clear awareness was and is their goal.

As far as the inspired youths of today looking to give Kony a piece of their minds, I encourage you to continue to research and spread the information you learned about Uganda. I‘m looking forward to seeing the wave of political and social issues that will follow Invisible Children’s suit. Like “KONY 2012” creator, Jason Russell said, “we’re not just studying human history, we’re shaping it.”