Kony movement gains momentum

Trevor Monk, Staff Writer

Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” viral video campaign fell under criticism and suspicion following the campaign’s swift gain in supporters.

The “Kony 2012” video highlights the brutality of internationally indicted Joseph Kony and the alleged atrocities being committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and that group’s alleged use of children soldiers in Uganda.

The history of Kony and the army is followed by instructions for viewers to support the cause by spreading the video on social networking sites and donating money to Invisible Children.

While Kony is believed to be in Congo, the army’s more recent attacks have been closer to the border of Uganda and Congo.

The 27-minute long video grabs the attention of viewers with cinematography mimicking the recognizable user interface of Facebook and Twitter.

The final minutes of the video pushes for viewers to raise awareness by purchasing a Kony 2012 Action Kit. The revenue made from the sale of the Action Kits and donations go to aid the capture of Kony and the disbandment of the LRA.

The kit includes supplies for people to post “Kony 2012” posters worldwide. A poster-posting event is being referred to as Cover the Night and is to take place April 20.

There is controversy over the possible misuse of donations and how they are being dispersed throughout the organization.

Of the $8,894,630 collected in 2011, $3,303,228 went to Central African programs with 63.6 percent of donations are being used for awareness programs, fundraising and management expenses.

Pitt-Johnstown Political Science Professor Christopher Cook has questioned the “Kony 2012” hype.

Cook said the film’s use of new technologies, Facebook and Twitter, are pulling at the heartstrings of younger people.

Cook said this has been successful in making Joseph Kony a household name and is raising awareness about this one topic.

Cook, who has a doctorate in American foreign policy in Africa, said there is no doubt that Joseph Kony is a horrible man who needs to be stopped. At the same time however, he said people also want to make sure they take the time to look deeper into problems facing Africa in the long term, not just follow the cause blindly.

“The world would be a better place with Joseph Kony gone and his group gone. But will these people be excited about this cause two years from now, or five years from now?”

The video’s popularity came abruptly and was followed with the backlash of people accusing the organization of misusing the money collected.

The adviser for UPJ’s Schools for Schools program, Jilliane Bolt, said that,within the Invisible Children organization, the “Kony 2012” campaign is small in relation to everything else they are doing.

Bolt said this group is helping people in Uganda, but the organization has to operate as well to continue to keep their humanitarian efforts strong.

Bolt said if it means “Kony 2012” doesn’t have 100 percent support it is still creating dialogue about Kony.

“Any press is good press and it is creating awareness.”

Bolt said in order for the full impact of the Invisible Children’s efforts, Kony has to stop killing those who benefit from it.

Senior Rebekah Mechtensimer attended the showing of “Kony 2012” at UPJ. Mechtensimer said even though it seemed like a sales pitch, it was effective.

“Nonprofit organizations always have negative support, but it’s better than having no support.”