Viral video misleads supporters

Montana Mooney

When I asked to write the Kony 2012 story for The Chronicle, I planned to take it in a very different direction than I’m about to. If any of you are my friends on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, I wouldn’t blame you for judging me and my past “STOP KONY” statements. But there’s a good chance you have been just as misinformed as I have.
     On the night of March 6, I got on the internet and saw “Stop Kony” and “Kony 2012” everywhere. Having no idea what it meant, I watched the video everyone was posting. I was hooked. The video was all about a man named Jason Russell, a member of the Invisible Children Corp., and how he needed our help to arrest and remove Joesph Kony from Uganda.
     First of all, who is Jason Russell? I’m sure most of us have heard of him, and unfortunately heard of some of the things that have happened to this man recently. In the video he is portrayed as a family man that just wants to change the lives of these African children that have suffered so greatly, but recently he has been caught committing crude acts in public and vandalizing vehicles. This is one of the many reasons that the Kony 2012 cause has come to be questioned by many of its former solid supporters. The cause remains the same, though: to stop Joseph Kony.
     Kony is the leader of the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army, and he has been taking children from their homes and forcing them to do horrible things and commit terrible crimes since the 1980s. There is no doubt that Kony is an awful man and deserves no less than the worst punishment possible, but the Kony 2012 cause is extremely misleading.
     What did the video ask of its viewers? All of us that watched the video were told to “Make Kony Famous” in order for the United States government to see that Uganda needed our help. We made him famous, all right. The video went viral with over 100 million views. But why?
     The video went viral because the second you posted that status or that video, you felt like a hero. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Almost all of us did it. We all had the right intentions, and we wanted to be a part of something that would change the world, or so we thought.
     Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s very own Prime Minister said that Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for six years. He even tweeted, “As PM of Uganda I invite you to visit the Pearl of Africa and see the peace that exists in our wonderful country.” He told reporters that the video gave a “false impression” of his country. If Kony isn’t even in Uganda, there is no point in removing him.
     If Kony isn’t even in the country, why is this company continuing to sell their products? The “action kits” being sold, with posters and t-shirts, have been sold out since the cause became popular. Unfortunately, this is where another of the many problems with the cause resides. On the popular site, Tumblr, Grant Oyston said, “As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32 percent went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.” I hate to tell you, but if you bought an action kit, most of that money probably went to everyone but those you wished to directly help.
     I’m not saying that we should all hate Invisible Children and their cause. I completely support the Invisible Children and hope that Eastern Africa can develop and heal from the past tragedies. But all of us jumped on board to something that we didn’t have all the facts on.
     Many of us have been mislead by the information we were given, and we were all too eager to make a difference that we didn’t question the flaws in what we believed to be a good cause. Yes, those affected need to be helped and Kony still deserves to be captured and punished, but according to all the information we have been given as of recently, your Facebook status won’t be saving the world any time soon.