Thursday, 8 March 2012

Those Most Responsible

There is a curious phenomenon sweeping over the Internet right now. People are listing it as 'inspiring'.  Much has been said already, but I just have a few comments about the Kony 2012 movement that has gone viral:

  1. There are better opinions there about what some of the shortcomings of the campaign are.  You can read them here and here.  I agree with those sentiments.  However, I am extremely impressed by the mobilization around the movie (positive and negative).  The impact of technology, the Internet, and social media is incredibly impressive.  And while I am worried that our intellectual capacities are not advancing as fast as technology (there is incredible ignorance and naivety about the attention to Kony 2012), this phenomenon really gets me excited about the possibility of getting the right people, in the right room, at the right time.  Can you imagine if someone used the same production value as the Kony movie, but directed the attention at the plight of First Nations people in Canada, with proper facts, and got the same response (15+ Million viewers, endorsements by major athletes and Justin Bieber)?  I think that there is a huge likelihood that noticeable changes would have occurred, quickly.

  2. Speaking of changes, I feel like the entire movie, catchphrase, and movement really speak to a fairy tale culture.  The idea of “stopping at nothing to stop Kony” misses one key issue, for me.  The whole thing stops at Kony.  One individual.  And then all the children live happily ever after.  It is very difficult for me to see how the removal of one individual will make the lives of the children markedly better, and yet the movie still strikes a chord.  There is something quite compelling about good vs. evil stories.  But this isn’t a movie, and the situation is worse, and much more complicated than a 24 minute movie could ever capture.  Unfortunately, it is simply not as ‘sexy’ to make a movie about the years of psychological counseling, physical rehabilitation, and social reintegration that are necessary to help these children become ‘normal’.

    In any event, has anyone stopped to interrogate whether the removal of a dictator/despot has lasting, positive consequences?  There have been quite a few disposed of recently (Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi).  Who exactly is living happily ever after?  They no longer pose a threat, individually.  But the associated countries are in turmoil.  I recall the issues and concern over the IRA – I don’t know of any high-level assassinations/killings in Ireland, and yet I can’t think of any major issues coming from there – there were peace talks, and the matter quietly diminished from view.  (although this could be ignorance on my part, as I don’t regularly follow the Irish situation).

For all its trials and tribulations, Kony 2012 has done one major thing.  It has created dialogue, and more importantly, it has opened up a space in our society (and especially in North America), where, if one is savvy enough, there can be continual discourse on the issue of child soldiers in Uganda, among other things.  Bringing violations and atrocities to light is generally the domain of the traditional media, but the impact of initiatives like this one are much different, and powerful in a different way.  The ultimate end-result is this – for a large group of people (youth in North America, predominantly), Joseph Kony has been ‘outed’.  There is worldwide attention, scrutiny, and general disdain of his actions, and the lack of consequences he’s faced.  This mass attention is a massive tool for fighting impunity, and in my mind, impunity is something worth fighting against.

Bring Kony to Justice, yes.

Stop Impunity. 2012.

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