KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous, is Invisible Children’s sequel to the first viral video that took the media world by storm. Uploaded last week, the video opens with a montage of media voices, at turns commenting on and criticizing the video’s predecessor, KONY 2012.
After the montage, former Ugandan presidential candidate, Norbert Mao, proclaims:
“Let those who are professors write their books and create academic awareness. But this one grabs you by your gut, and shakes you, until you are forced to pay attention. That is the essence of awareness. People are now paying attention.”
But are they? And what are they paying attention to?
With a little over 1.6 million views, the sequel to KONY 2012 has far fewer views than the original, which is likely a result of the adverse reactions Invisible Children received for the original video, the organization and its leadership – particularly one the group’s founders, Jason Russell.
The sequel also lacks the immediate qualities that made the original so easily accessible. By presenting the complex issue through a child’s eyes, the world paid attention, despite the video’s dangerous foray into oversimplification.
That said, there are efforts to improve upon the original’s mistakes. Most notably, the sequel seems to address the criticism the original received for not being representative of countries currently affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Part II picks up on this and includes many voices from current LRA affected areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
As a response to the criticism of KONY2012’s tones of neocolonialism and depictions of the ‘white savior complex’, Part II is mindful of including activists and volunteers from different racial groups.
Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey, the new voice of the movement, partially side-steps the original video’s sole emphasis on military intervention. He emphasizes the fact that both reconstruction and development have to be part of any solution in the areas affected by the LRA. Along with rehabilitation and reconstruction, the video includes civilian protection, peaceful surrender and arrest of LRA leadership as part of the comprehensive solution. How these ideals are to be achieved however, is still not fully explained, leading the public to believe that it will all be deceptively simple. A quote from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court illustrates this:
“I am dealing with the state parties and the international community. There is no legal obstacle. Go and arrest Kony tomorrow. It’s perfect.” – Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC
In the interest of sustaining this implication of a simple solution, many aspects of the conflict are carefully avoided. The risk that military intervention might further aggravate more violence, the details behind the Ugandan government and military’s human rights violations, the backlash in Uganda caused by the original video, and further context into the LRA’s history in the currently affected countries are not mentioned at all.
Instead, the video’s focus is mostly on the organization’s worldwide advocacy event, aimed in engaging the social media savvy youth in April 20th’s “Cover the Night.”
On the 20th, many eyes will be turned to hundreds of thousand of posters of Joseph Kony’s face. The hope is that people continue to dig even deeper than sequels and continue to engage in advocating for an end to a conflict that continues to affect many lives. The hope is that the momentary world-wide attention on April 21st (and 22nd, and 23rd…) does not flutter away faster than the posters on the streets and the red chalk on the walls.