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KONY 2012 Video Reaction

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When the shiny voice of Jason Russell played through the speakers, I felt the first pang of annoyance. Maybe, just maybe, if the video had had a narrator that sounded less plastic, less fake, maybe I would have been more willing to hear the message of KONY 2012 without biases. But, instead, it was Russell from start to finish. All 29 minutes and 59 seconds of it. Maybe it’s his tone that makes me wince inwardly whenever he attempts to convey the terrors of Kony’s violence. It could possibly be that, in the dozens of documentaries I’ve watched, the narrators just stated the facts. Russell’s opinion on the matter was clear, as he conveyed the pain of Kony’s victims. His passion didn’t seem feigned...but why was my reluctance to join his fight so strong?

I do feel that young generations need to be compassionate. It is absolutely vital that we have the ability to empathize, in order for us to remain humane and still make way on resolving the issues we face. Because of this belief, I agree with the aspect of KONY 2012 that intends to motivate the youth of the United States. Furthermore, regardless of whether Kony’s army continues to be active, the victims of his past atrocities deserve to be heard, and the villain to be recognized. It would be wonderful if the tactics that cajoled teens worldwide to take action against Joseph Kony could move them to tackle other issues with an equal vigor.

There are clear reasons behind the astronomical reaction the film caused. The group of “hipsters” that made it, including Jason Russell, were accurately described in Time magazine as more filmmaker than activist. Clearly directed towards the youth of the United States, the KONY 2012 film uses a number of tactics to play to the viewer’s emotions. To start, Russell utilizes the vulnerability and innocence of his son, Gavin, throughout the film, having the pudgy little boy utter the words that he hopes strikes home with the viewer: “Let’s stop him”. The movie’s suave transitions leave no gaps for the viewer’s interest to wane, leaving no pause for us to wonder how much Russell really did oversimplify the issue of the LRA. Finally, empowering, soulful music is played in just the right spots, the banjo of Mumford and Sons plucking the heartstrings of the viewing teen. And then the screen goes black, and I’m a confused blend of numb emotion.
While I find myself believing in the KONY 2012’s intentions to instill empathy into the heartless youth of the world, and commend them for doing the job with frightening ease, my initial reaction to the fight proposed was not as positive. Prior to watching the film, I had heard criticisms both good and bad. I’d heard classmates say that they were ready to join the fight against Kony, as well as those who were skeptical as to whether Kony was even alive. As a result, I watched the movie with perhaps a more critical eye than others might have for the first time. The opinions of others coursed through me right along with the exhilaration that the film brought, and I began to question. Is Kony still a threat? Is he even alive?
Even the worldwide response is something that I’ve begun to question. Whether it be positive or negative, the video is propaganda. It scares me that 100 million people watched the video in just ten days. Furthermore, the number of people rallied to join the fight against Kony, without even questioning whether the full details on the LRA are given in the video. Such astronomical responses suggest that many people are so hungry for change that they are extremely pliable to propaganda like the KONY film. What if the next video doesn’t have a message so positive? Will the viewers actually question the information put forth then? Or will they eat the message up as ferociously as they consumed the message of KONY 2012?
Then Invisible Children posted a follow up video to their first, calling it “KONY 2012: Part 2”. The same process of analysis played through my mind. My reluctance that was so prominent had waned a little. But what obstinacy that left was replaced with frustration. I want the facts. How, in this world where anybody can make a video and everyone can speak freely, can I get the facts? Among the magazines, newspapers, videos, news; where is the truth? It sends my mind into a frenzy trying to grasp something, anything, that might aid me in taking a true stance on the issue that Invisible Children has thrust before us. It drives me insane to think of how, while I am brought closer to Uganda through this video, I am still so disconnected. I can’t really, truly, reach Uganda through Youtube or Facebook. Who am I to believe? I suppose that the only way I can ever hope to claim the veracious story of Kony is to wait and see.



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