Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Trouble with KONY

Doesn’t KONY2012 suddenly feel like KONY2011?

I finally broke down this week and watched the video that apparently 3 billion people had watched last week.  In case you have managed to avoid the tsunami of media manipulation, I have decided to break down the video into much smaller pieces: 


Really cool music that makes you think something important is about to happen. 

Introduction of Gavin, the filmmaker’s son.  It’s not clear why this kid is in this video except for middle aged mothers to say, “damn, I wish my son was that cute”. 

Cut to brutal interview of scared African teenager wishing he were dead.  This is serious folks.  YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION so get off your damn playstation for two seconds (actually 30 minutes) and listen up!  But the cute blonde SoCal kid will be coming back in a minute so don’t fret. 

Cute kid is back!  Dad says that Kony is a very bad man.  Kinda like Darth Vader from Star Wars.  When dad asks him what cute kid should do about the situation, cute kid replies, “we should stop him”.  This is the implication; if a seven year old can figure it out (even though he was probably coached by daddy to say everything), then all you morons watching this video can figure it out too.  KONY MUST BE STOPPED!  
The details of how, when, why and all that crap will be explained later—all in vague but exciting terms.  The point is to keep the message simple for easier ADD teenage digestion. 

Lots of cheering.  Young people.  Ra Ra Ra.  Kinda like a cheerleading squad on Capitol Hill.  If we are going to do something, we must make a lot of noise and do it together.  A bunch of littles can make a big difference!  And it worked (kinda).  Special forces were sent to help the Ugandan Army (with their own questionable history) in an attempt to find world criminal #1. 

At this point, the filmmakers should have inserted some porn.  Because I’m pretty sure that some of the 14 year olds stopped watching, clicked the share button and went back to their playstations. 

But for those still watching…this isn’t enough.  We are going to “target” (a word which seems strangely inappropriate considering the subject) celebrities and policy makers.  Really  important celebrities like Rhianna who sings about rough sex and Angelina Jolie whose name is always mentioned when the international community needs help.  This will bring AWARENESS and make KONY a CELEBRITY –even though the actual victims of Kony desire no such thing. 

More young people running around and cheering.  An introduction to the awesomely cool ACTION KIT that was funded from all those heartfelt donations.  It includes STICKERS and POSTERS and a cheap bracelet that probably cost 5 cents for you AND a friend so you can pass it on.  Because this is all about passing it on.  And then on April 20th, all these do-gooding 14 year olds are going to blanket their cities in KONY 2012 posters (God help us all) so that everyone can be even more aware that KONY exists. 

Cut back to cute kid.

“ I’m gonna be like you dad.”

“In what way son?”

“I’m gonna make millions by asking teenage kids for their lunch money while travelling the world AND making use of my USC film degree.” 

“Dare to dream, son.” 

I think we can all agree that Kony is a very bad person and has done some very evil deeds and deserves to be punished.  The problem I have is that the filmmakers are building awareness and raising some SERIOUS cash so that they can raise more awareness and raise more cash and raise more awareness … and well, at least they are consistent with their mission statement.  But as a CEO of a third world foundation, it makes me a little sick to see that so much money is squandered on making films and paying salaries and transportation costs and building “ACTION KITS” and making people aware without any real consequence.  It all just seems like a slick Hollywood machine and the people who really need help—the victims of Kony’s atrocities—are given a disproportionate percentage of money and support.  And after watching the video, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the film was as much about smugfaced Jason Russell and his cloying kid as it was about the plight in Africa.    

 I have watched several of the interviews with the filmmakers over the past week and they are in a very intense spotlight.  To answer their critics, they have even made another film but quite frankly, I think they are digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole.  I’m sure they didn’t expect THIS much attention and I’m curious to find out whether the momentum will carry through and make their “Cover the night” party a success.  Will Kony be caught because of this?  I’m not sure it really matters.  There will always be evil people in the world.  The focus should be on helping the good. 

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