Since it first hit the Internet earlier this month, social networking sites have been buzzing with hash tags and pleas to help spread Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign.
The 30-minute video, which has more than 82 million views on YouTube alone, is the most viral in history and aims to make war criminal and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony “famous” to spur his arrest for using guerilla tactics and child soldiers.
However, the video has been met with plenty of resistance. Criticisms have not only come from those skeptical of Invisible Children’s finances – the non-profit made more than $13 million in total revenue last year while only spending about $9 million in total expenses, according to charitynavigator.org – but also from the very people it aims to protect. Ugandans claim the video ignores the work that has already been done to stop Kony and the new issues facing the country.
According to the Wall Street Journal, showings of the film in Uganda were suspended after about 35,000 viewers began throwing stones at the film and those facilitating the showing, jeering and calling radio stations with objections to the portrayal of the conflict. Some thought it put too much focus on Kony, who fled the country in 2005, and the creators of the film, and not enough on the LRA’s victims. Others thought the days of Kony were already behind them and the video simplified the situation.
For the people of Uganda to truly experience peace, Invisible Children should let the plans already set in motion take their course. Making Kony “famous” will not help bring him to justice, but throw lighter fluid on already inflamed passions among citizens of the country.
“What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems than help us,” said Dr. Beatrice Mpora, director of a community health organization in Uganda, to The Telegraph. “There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since 2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what people should help us with.”
Invisible Children has addressed such criticisms on its website and maintains that the video “sought to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format.” Though these critiques can be debated, the validity of the video’s creator, Jason Russell, was completely undermined when police detained him Thursday for indecent exposure and vandalizing cars in San Diego, according to the New York Times.
However, there are still plenty of other causes to take up in the war-ravaged nation, which has a history of unrest and dictatorship.
Though the LRA is no longer a major threat in the country, according to the Associated Press, Ugandan officials announced Friday that the Allied Democratic Forces, another rebel group, has formed three military camps in the neighboring Congo.
Change and intervention is still needed in Uganda, but it will only be possible if groups such as Invisible Children devote their energy toward tackling current and cultural problems that cannot be solved with a viral video.