May 3, 2012
It began over spring break for the executive board of the Black and Latin@ Student Union and me, with the release of the viral KONY2012 video by Invisible Children. Upon first viewing, I was incredibly excited and ready to make Joseph Kony famous so that he could be arrested.
Why should he be arrested? Joseph Kony is a Ugandan Warlord who originally led a campaign in northern Uganda, brutally killing civilians and kidnapping child soldiers. Moreover, he forced those children to kill and disfigure other children or their parents. As of today, Kony has moved his campaign into the surrounding African countries, such as Sudan and the Congo, continuing to commit crimes considered as crimes against human rights.
The video makes the argument that the only reason that Kony has yet to be arrested is because nobody knows who he is and cites making Kony famous as its cause. The viral video was incredibly well made, but within the first few days of its release, controversies began to arise about the video and Invisible Children.
Some examples of these controversies are the video’s use of stereotypes of African countries, what Invisible Children was actually using the money for, the role of the International Criminal Court in indicting Joseph Kony and the director’s misportrayal of the government.
With all of these arguments and data sprouting up all over the internet, I got the idea to go around campus interviewing people known for having a speciality that coincides with the topics involved in KONY2012, such as Emma Leeds ’12, who specializes in social media, and Professor Stephen Orvis of the government department, who specializes in African politics. My goal was neither to attack nor defend the movement or the group but, rather, to analyze KONY2012 from a variety of angles in order to better understand the phenomenon.
Conducting the interviews and editing the film involved an intense amount of work. We started this project upon returning from spring break, with limited funds to put towards making the film, and few qualified individuals (mainly Wlajimir “Jimmy” Alexis and myself) to work on editing and production.
There were many times where we came close to scrapping the entire project because of the difficulties of simultaneously working on the film and balancing academics, the responsibilities of being on the BLSU E-Board and other extracurriculars.
However, we thought the education and analysis of this historical movement was too important to simply toss under the table. After the release of the first trailer and the extended trailer, in particular, the support and excitement of the campus led us to believe giving up on the project was no longer an option.
We put our heads together and were eventually able to put together a great documentary. Moreover, we had a fantastic turnout and a lot of support at the event. We will be uploading the full documentary online within the next few days so that everyone on campus can see and access it at their leisure.
We hope that everybody enjoys the documentary and that it spurs you to critically analyze the KONY2012 and all future socio-political movements that sprout up. Full interviews with the participants will also be released over finals week. We hope everyone on the Hill enjoys the finished product.