Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Why I Have A Problem With Kony, The Campaign

Warning: The following video is 30 minutes long. If you don’t have the bandwidth or the time to watch it, then proceed to read the rest.

So I’ll assume you couldn’t watch the video in full, so let me summarize: Joseph Kony is from Uganda, he kidnaps children and forces them to become part of his army, he turns the boys into killers and the girls into sex slaves. American filmmaker Jason Russell heard about Kony’s atrocities from an Ugandan boy first-hand, and started an Invisible Children movement that culminated in making the Obama gov’t send military advisers to Uganda to help the military capture Kony. But because there’s a threat to pull out the advisers because people forget, the Invisible Children peeps are now trying to make Kony “famous” by April 2012 so that the US gov’t will continue to assist the Uganda military to capture Kony. Their call to action: [1] On April 20, 2012 they’ll be posting and hanging Kony 2012 campaign materials in every street corner of the US; [2] Buy a Kony Action Kit (which has stickers, pins, and bracelets to help spread the word); [3] Donate money to the cause. [4] Share the 30-minute video. 

The video starts with the words, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” then the last two words are replaced by, “is now.”

It’s interesting that Invisible Children’s idea is to use the power of the masses in order to effect change, specifically, keep the American military advisers in Uganda in order to help the Ugandan army bring Joseph Kony to justice and release the kidnapped children. Because their cause is on YouTube and Facebook, their call is addressed to everyone who’s connected to the two sites. That’s a lot of people worldwide.

However, while I was watching the video and finding out about Kony for the first time, my initial reaction was to ask several questions.
  • Is what they say about Kony in the video all true? 
  • Agreed, Kony seems to be one hell of a human rights violator, given that he is the most wanted criminal by the International Criminal Court. But isn’t Kony an internal problem, best left for the Uganda people and government to solve?
  • Why should the US government step in, given that the Uganda government isn’t even asking the US for help?
  • Who died and made these ordinary American citizens judge and jury? And who are they to push their government to meddle in the affairs of another country?
Sure, the bleeding hearts of this world can and should be allowed to publicly condemn Kony for the atrocities he has done. But to actually force their own government to meddle in the affairs of another country? Nothing is more awful than a power tripper who thinks he’s right.

I don’t care how noble your cause is. Dear Americans, your USA for Africa was wrong; you are not the world. Know your boundaries, and respect the boundary of others. In your eyes Kony’s a “bad guy,” and the way you portray him in your video is similar to the way Hollywood portrays villains. But reality is rarely that black-and-white. Capturing Kony may actually be the easy part. How do you deal with the kidnapped children, those children who’ve been trained to wield guns and kill arbitrarily? How will you address the very problems of Uganda that allowed a Kony to thrive?

One of these days you’ll encounter a leader who murders the children of his political opponents ruthlessly yet supplies the US with all the oil your country needs. Let’s see you encapsulate that problem in a 30-minute video.


rudeboy said...

Ah, Joel. It's a scientifically-proven fact that the universe revolves around the U.S.A.

And if it ain't, it's prob'ly sumwheres in the Bible, y'all.

Mugen said...

Didn't watch the entire video clip. But you're right. It's time the US stop policing the world.

citybuoy said...

I'm amazed at how clearly you captured that thought. Like most people, I greeted the problem with ignorance, saw the video, empathized with the plea and helped spread the word with the little resources i have. I just couldn't get past a few points myself. I was hoping the video would clear these points up but they didn't.
1. I understand awareness is key but what exactly has the government of Uganda done to help? knowledge is only half the battle. what happens after that?
2. Why do Americans feel like they have the responsibility to save the world? Watching reality tv gives me the impression that they need to save a few of their own as well.
3. I don't get why people are so sensitive about the issue. I mean yes, I get it. He's a bad person. But the point of the video going viral is to spread awareness. I've seen a few Kony jokes on 9gag and Facebook and people just jump at the posters with pitchforks and flames. It's cyberbullying at its worst. I just hope they understand that the point of the video is to make Kony famous and with fame, you need to accept both sides: the sympathizers and the parodies.

Ay, ang haba ng comment ko. haha

Mamon said...

Di ko na tinapos yung video kasi, suffering na naman at war. too depressing.

Nathan Arciaga said...

Hi Joel. I think you raise some important concerns here although to be fair, I don't think Invisible Children sees itself as an American entity. In the video they seem to envision a world without borders, for all the good and the bad that that may bring us. Getting the US government involved is sketchy, sure, but if that's what it takes to bring down the world's worst, means, end, what justifies what. Who I really hate are those Ugandan politicians who were interviewed for the film; what are THEY doing about this?! I think more than the US involvement, what this campaign did best was to let the world know that out there lurks a monster like Kony and if that brings more pressure for the international community to capture Kony, or for Uganda to be ashamed of itself and do its job to capture its own criminals and punish them, and that at the end of the day it saves lives, then it's a good thing. Plus, you have to admit, it's a brilliant campaign.

lannes said...

What makes anyone think this Kony guy will be the last?