Thursday, March 15, 2012


The biggest story in the film entertainment world this past week, wasn't about the Box Office numbers, or even the TV ratings, a show's renewal or cancellation, or even some young starlet doing something that TMZ would obsess over for a month. Instead, a clip on Youtube, about a half-hour long, piece of blatant propaganda, was everywhere to be found. I don't normally waste much time with youtube searching for any particularly famous viral clips; I haven't even seen the damn "Honeybadger" thing yet, but the now infamous "Kony 2012," film, as of this the publishing of this post, has over 79 million hits! On top of  about twenty friends of mine spraying the image of Joseph Kony along with links to the video all over my Facebook. Frankly, I couldn't ignore Joseph Kony if I wanted to, which I later learned was the entire point of the film.

I'd like to pretend superious worldly awareness and claim that I had heard of Kony before this week, I actually think I might have at one point or another, along with the names of about a dozen or so others genocide leaders in the world. If I did however, I had long forgotten his and all those other names as well. The film is made by a man named Jacob Russell, on behalf of Invisible Children, a group who's made their soul function to end Joseph Kony and make sure he and his LRA rebel group that control the northern part of Uganda, stop kidnapping children. They kidnap them, turn the girls into sex slaves, the boys into soldiers for Kony, and force them to murder their parents. With those who resist, he order them to slice and disfigure faces. All of this can be found and told in the video, which wants to make Joseph Kony famous, in the same way people like Hitler and Pol Pot are famous for their-..., I guess I could write something along the lines of "numerous crimes against humanity", but once that list of crimes include 'genocide,' there really isn't any political correct terminology that seems appropriate.

This man slaughters human beings, by the thousands. This fact is not debatable. Little in this movie is debatable. Yeah, I can nitpick if I really felt like it. It is propaganda, but it's also well-made propaganda by a very talented filmmaker with the help of his creative son. It's trying to get us to help change the world, and despite most of human history going against it, it seems it might actually do that, and let's face it, the world is better off without this guy being apart of it. I haven't donated any money to Invisible Children, nor do I plan to.  I have nothing against their actions or their goal, and I support them, but I don't have the money. I know people like to say things like that, and they say things like, it only costs so much per so much, or whatever, but believe me, if I had the money to donate, I'd do it. I'd probably donate to about 5,000 other charities and causes if I could. I wish altruism was an aspect of myself, but it generally isn't. Besides, it seems they're doing well on their own. No they haven't gotten Kony, but now we know who he is. Many people have donated and contributed, and have been pressing Washington and other famous cultural icons to join and promote their cause, and earlier this year, Congress and President Obama approved the sending of 100 advisory troops to help the Ugandan Army capture Kony. Kony has become aware of the U.S. presence, and has become more elusive since, hiding out in the mountains of Northern Uganda. I actually worry about sending troops into Africa. For starters, our priority should be getting troops home, not sending them to other places, but even more than that, is there anything we've done right or can do right in Africa? We went to Somalia many years ago to help refugees, and that turned out badly, and because it turned out badly, we didn't go into Rwanda a couple years later. We are not trained to be in Africa, nor are we familiar enough with the continent to even be in Africa. We're barely capable of managing the Middle East, and that takes everything out of us, and even if we get this guy, we need to get his entire Army, many of whom are also names that are near the top of the ICC Most Wanted list. The differences should, could, and will are miles apart, and nobody knows that better than anybody who's ever wanted to change the world.

In short, I don't know why this particular video has captured the world's attention. I could point to just as powerful short films for numerous other worthy causes, but, this one has. Maybe it relentlessness of it's message and goals. It's determine to make 2012, the year in which Kony is captured and presented to The Hague. While, it sounds ambititious, keep in mind this guys been evading everybody for 26 years. Still, only time will tell if they are successful. It did take ten years however, after everybody knowing who Osama Bin Laden was for him to be captured, and we had a lot more people looking for him. Still, what if we don't capture Kony this year? Are we just gonna stop looking? I don't think so, but I admire the lofty ambitions anyway.

Not surprisingly, next to the "Kony 2012" video on youtube, other suggestions include a bunch of people trying to disprove the video as a scam. (Scoffs, eye roll) You know, I'm in favor of freedom of speech, but good God, that's just distasteful. Yeah, there's probably other reasons behind the campaign, some that might not be so altruistic, but who cares? I mean, we only went into Germany to kill Hitler after Japan attacked us, but it's a good thing we did. I'd like to live in the world where I can play the "Kony 2012," on my computer, wait 'til they show his photo, shoot about a dozen rounds from a tommygun through the computer and into his skull, and magically, he'd be dead in real life, my computer would be without a scratch, and I can go on watching March Madness, but we don't, so the next best thing is to tell people, and hopefully one of them will actually be bold and crazy enough to go to Uganda and actually blow a bunch of holes in Kony. The guy is a power-hungry, bloodthirsty, genocidal asshole, and if any needs any other information before deciding whether or not it's a good idea to go after him, well, that person might have more holes in him than he might be aware of.

And still, I find myself shocked that so many people have taken an interest in this video. It's a sign of the times, but of what about? What is the sign? Of this global community that can outreach to the world at a moment's notice, of the power of film, the internet, youtube, and the availability of such tools that something can so suddenly alert our entire world, of the fact that that world is so cultural aware and politically organized that it can send such a video out for everyone to see, or maybe it's just a good and powerful film, and that even with it's propaganda message, it couldn't be ignored and had to be shared with everybody else? I don't know the answer. However, it's intriguing to me how there's such differences in my thought process and tone of voice when I think about the video from when I think about Joseph Kony. I will be keeping an eye of the progress of Invisible Children, and the effect of the video. Not that I particularly want to, but it certainly appears that I will be alerted to the results either way. As much as I'd like to ignore something like the genocide of children the way I ignore a "Transformers" movie when it's in the theatres, I probably shouldn't and if these people have their way, I won't be able to.

Note: here the youtube link to the "KONY 2012" video below. Due to copyright restrictions, I'm unable to post it to this blog.

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