Viral Video Hopes to Spur Arrest of War Criminal
By Spencer Ackerman March 7, 2012 |
KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.
“The next 27 minutes are an experiment,” says the faceless narrator. “But in order for it to work, you have to pay attention.”
That’s the arresting introduction of Kony 2012, a viral documentary dedicated to stopping the war criminal Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony is infamous for kidnapping children and turning them into child soldiers, among other atrocities.
But he’s not famous. That’s what the documentary, and the ambitious viral campaign it spearheads, is trying to change. It’s already attracted both a massive online audience — and a backlash.
The visually sophisticated documentary tells the story of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s brutal history in Uganda — it doesn’t say much about Kony’s flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic — mostly through the eyes of Jacob, a child refugee whose brother was killed by the militia. At one point, the boy says he would prefer to die rather than to live in the world Kony has made. It hits like an emotional sledgehammer.
And that lays the foundation for the campaign the movie essentially advertises. The nonprofit group behind it, Invisible Children, supports President Obama’s recent deployment of 100 military advisers to Uganda to help its army hunt Kony, a decision that required years of grassroots demands from humanitarian activists. In order to make sure the pressure keeps up, and Kony is ultimately arrested — this year — Invisible Children wants to plaster the cities of the world with red, visually striking KONY 2012 posters, stickers and t-shirts.