MANILA, Philippines – Today’s internet proves that even long and serious advocacy videos can go viral.
The new viral video ‘Kony 2012’ neither showcases any talent act nor presents funny pranks. The half-hour-long video features an unheard-of guerilla group leader in Africa, Joseph Kony, and campaigns for his arrest before the end of 2012.
In the video, Kony is described as “a very evil man” who kidnaps children in Uganda and uses them as child soldiers and sex slaves for his group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Filmmaker Jason Russell, who also made a cameo appearance along with son Gavin, made his message clear in the video: “to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
The video was first uploaded on February 20 by Russell’s group, the Invisible Children Inc., on the video-sharing site Vimeo. But the video became more famous when the group posted it on March 5 on Youtube.
As of this writing, the Vimeo video got 16 million views, while the Youtube video got over 67 million views.
The video got its big following when it was supported and endorsed by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and P. Diddy.
“I think it’s because it’s a human story,” Russell said in an interview when asked about the video’s popularity. “We’re all human beings, and for some reason we forgot about our humanity because of politics and because all these things we’re talking about have paralyzed us.”
Along with the hype being enjoyed by the video, it also receives critical responses. Some criticize the timing of the campaign, saying that it could have been more relevant if promoted in an earlier year. Others warned that calling for military campaigns against Kony would only bring more harm to the LRA’s victims.
But many question the integrity of the fundraising effort of the campaign, as only about 30% of the group’s budget is used to help children in Uganda.
“We’re an unorthodox organization,” Russell responded in an interview. “We work outside of the traditional box of what you think about charity and nonprofit.”
Russell established the campaign as a promise to his friend, Jacob Acaye, a Ugandan child who escaped the LRA in 2003. – Rappler.com