Love this video from Invisible Children, it spells out what I’ve been saying for ages is the new politic of online connection – which shines light on the strange apathy of looking the other way. Although I have a few minor reservations about this sort of high profile ‘RED’ style campaigning (transparency and cost of infrastructure are always an issue) I think the message is a good one, and a crazy idea of making Joseph Kony famous might just work (although I hope it doesn’t backfire. It does contain some risk that people won’t get the message that this man kidnaps children and forces them to be soldiers in his own power game. They might just think it’s the latest viral for some computer game or something?)
The role of religion in his Lord’s Resistance Army is interesting too in a country that yet again is debating laws against homosexuality in big part because of American evangelist pressure, ironic since those that oppose homosexuality as in St Petersburg are claiming that all this gay stuff is a Western import and political interference – obviously the American preachers are a different sort of interference then? I see Invisible Children are sidestepping those particular hot potatoes…then again single issue politics was ever thus, although in my mind I can’t see how your can separate centuries of western-funded religious indoctrination and military and commercial interference in Africa with the likes of Joseph Kony and war in Africa – a little simplistic, then again the mediascape has gone from 30 second soundbites to 140 bytes so it’s never going to be a bigger conversation than talking to a 5 year old, I guess.
A lot of intentional and unintentional ignorance happens around Africa and a lot of the less reported parts of the world, or as in the case of the possibility of making being gay a capital offence only one story gets through. It would be great if these stories were connected, and LGBT celebrities and activists showed Uganda and Africa their mettle by supporting campaigns like this, as a message of love in the face of hate. You can only win the day through shows of unity, Nelson Mandela and the fall of apartheid-era discrimination laws in South Africa shows that. There is far too much of a ghetto mentality in LGBT community today and I’m really fed up with the closed minded thinking therein – when did ‘If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution’ just become ‘I want to dance, fuck the revolution’?
EDIT: the more I learn about Invisible Children Inc and the whole STOPKONY campaign the more my minor reservations become major ones – around the simplistic nature of the campaign and the proposed response, the financial details and lack of transparency. Check out this post by Wil Wheaton for more info. I think what worries me more – if true – is the accusations they are helping fund the Ugandan army – posing with weapons is NOT a good look for a charity and looks like schoolboy badboy posing. Hmm. More criticism of StopKony2012 on Visible Children.
Although IC has done a great job of bringing Kony to light beyond the other books and documentaries that seemed to fall into a niche ‘who cares?’ hole, making people care is a great move…but I think as this blog article points out the reality of Africa and the geopolitic is far from simple – and if it encourages the US to become more militarily involved in the area it could create a far bigger problem for all including those ‘invisible’ children. And here’s a far more balanced – and experienced – take on the issue. It seems probably the truth is somewhere in the middle – you need the ‘candy’ to get people to listen, you need the ‘dancing’ or the pop concert or the fancy film – but the danger is that it can become a sort of Coca Cola Activism, Let Save The World With Ringpulls, Sing Songs, Expensive Gadgets And Throw Money At It sort of affair.