Anyone who turned on their computer or checked their Smartphone during the first week of March, can tell you a new grassroots movement emerged in about two days.
Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to the awareness of Ugandan child soldiers, released its rough cut documentary nearly five years ago. However these past few days have seen an unprecedented amount of social media wild fire aiming to #MakeKonyFamous. The goal: to keep the pressure on the U.S. Government to continue deploying American soldiers as aids of the Ugandan military.
The narrative of the film begs for empathy, unity, and action to capture a man guilty of capturing boys for a rebel army, while destroying villages, and turning girls into sex slaves.
The film seems to promote moral good, a plea for help that most of us desperately want to answer. It begins with the filmmaker, a man and his child, grappling with the idea that Ugandan child soldiers are little different than the filmmaker’s son. It then takes the viewer on an emotional ride through the life of another child and friend who experienced the atrocities in Uganda.
The filmmaker’s goal is to “make Joseph Kony a household name” so that 2012 will be the year he is arrested. The fear is that if attention wanes, so will funds to American support in capturing him. But, some organizations criticize the movement for various reasons.
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale, Chris Blattman writes: “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa… It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden.”
This opinion is rampant among critics of American international activism. That the “great power” helps people of which it understands very little and may implicitly destroy the social structures engrained in the region’s traditional lifestyle, is usually a fear lost in the emotional urge to help others.
More tangibly, Invisible Children is accused of spending only 30% of their profits on direct services while the rest is spent on staff salary, travel, and filmmaking.
They are also accused of manipulating facts to which Invisible Children’s partner group Resolve responded, “is a serious charge, and this claim is published with no accompanying substantiation.”
Invisible Children does not promote itself as the beacon service provider. After all the film states their mission is to pressure policy makers and public figures using the same kind of tactics that traditional product marketing uses.
It seems to take a marketing campaign to catch the attention of the world. When in history has such a horrific scene organically become a popular enough cause to create change? Even, Blattman agrees that no other organization on the planet has brought the war in Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army to the forefront of the public or Congress.
Stop Kony takes hold and manipulates tools young people have embedded into their lives. It brings up some serious conversations we must have about the purpose of western power, the alley of the Internet and social media, and compassion for a world other than our own.