Jason Russell, filmmaker of the ‘Kony 2012′ documentary that went viral this week, told NBC’s Today Show that he makes no apologies for trying to put a face on a complex and decades-old conflict.
The video and the organization behind it, Invisible Children, received an immense about of criticism for hyping and over-simplifying a conflict that has subsided since its climax in 2003-2004. These critics are not downplaying the issue that Kony has previously abducted and corrupted thousands of children, but it is estimated that his LRA army currently has less than 200 children with most of them residing outside of Uganda.
If that happened in San Diego, California, if that happened in New York City, 200 children abducted and forced to kill their parents … it would be all over the news – Jason Russell.
The movement was also highly criticized for promoting ‘slacktivism’ (low-effort, feel-good activism) by encouraging the millions of viewers to donate $30 to the organization in exchange for a wrist bracelet, a t-shirt, and posters to be plastered all around the world. But Invisible Children is being confronted for how much they’re actually doing on the ground in Central Africa.
Russell rebuttals this criticism with the fact that we are seeing, for the first time, teenagers and young adults are feeling the need to support a moral cause. ”I think it’s because it’s a human story,” Russell said. “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.” Unifying people for one global cause is a hopeful effort, as we have seen across many social networks over the past week. Although many people may disagree with the cause, the direction of the funding, or the organization as a whole, we must look at the silver lining. The fact that the global Facebook community, in just a few days, unified in support of spreading the campaign video and rallying funds.
“Instead of continuing to debate the strengths and weakness of the Kony 2012 video …” Sarah Margon, an Africa expert at the Center for American Progress wrote at the Think Progress blog Friday, “let’s figure out how to turn this momentum into a constructive opportunity that can result in smart policies that will have a positive, real-time impact in the affected areas of central Africa.”