The 30 minute video was released online on 5 March, and racked up about 100 million views within the next two weeks. Made by the humanitarian organisation Invisible Children, it outlines the crimes of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in Uganda, and urges viewers to join in raising awareness with the overall aim of forcing the United States will take action against LRA leader, Joseph Kony.
For the first couple of days, the video was a sensation, and saw itself re-posted all over Facebook and Twitter. However, within a few days, criticism began to arise. Invisible Children has been accused of over simplifying the issue and ignoring facets of the case. The LRA left Uganda in 2006, and many Ugandans reacted to what they saw as a dated portrayal of their country. There have also been accusations that the organisation spends only a third of its donations on the campaign, giving them a bad ranking on Charity Navigator.
There is also concern about the Ugandan government being portrayed as “good guys” in the video, ignoring concerns about lack of democracy as well as their support of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Although the issues are not directly related, critics of Kony 2012 are concerned about how the video completely ignores these problems.
On 15 March, media coverage of Kony 2012 took an unexpected turn, as filmmaker Jason Russell was detained by the police after he was allegedly caught vandalising cars in the street naked. While it is impossible to know whether Russell’s breakdown was brought on by stress from media pressure, it seems certain that this incident will challenge Kony 2012’s credibility further.
The Kony 2012 campaign video, which to date has enjoyed more than 85.6 million hits on YouTube.