The Kony 2012 campaign that divided an online audience and reached 86,922,300+ viewers on YouTube has returned with an update. The online drive to see Josef Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerrilla group, captured is arguably one of the most successful in social web actvism terms. But it also created a lot of anger and a backlash against the presentation and timeliness of the facts in a very complicated situation.
‘Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous’ was uploaded by Invisible Children to YouTube yesterday and continues the same tone of evangelistic social media activism. This time the organisation is not gaining the same tidal wave of support and sharing with under 500 views on YouTube at the time of writing.
The Kony 2012 campaign taught a lot of people about the value of independent research, social media targeting and how to anger a crowd. Though the intentions may have been good initially, the lack of representation for Ugandan people and their views was seen as a mistake and one that the limited Ugandan population online did not appreciate.
The new video, which runs to nearly 20 minutes long, appears to be an effort to address the issues and details that the original video did not.
Missing from the new instalment is the voice-over of Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell. Russell is said to be facing weeks in hospital after a breakdown saw him running semi-naked in the street in San Diego. Part II features the organisation’s CEO Ben Keesey narrating.
The latest update from Invisible Children goes some way to explaining what the organisation had hoped to do. It also highlights the action of the African Union to pursue Josef Kony in March.
In the video, Keesey highlights the work of Invisible Children country director Joly Okot, who he says led the activity on the ground while the American team returned to create their media campaign to complement that work.
“Learning from these challenges of the past is crucial to achieve success going forward,” says Keesey in the video. “Invisible Children is just one of many organisations on the ground and we were not the first. Stopping the LRA violence is possible but it will take increased support for the comprehensive efforts conceived and led by local leaders.” This sounds like an effort to correct the paternalistic presentation of the first video and better highlights original work that undertaken within Uganda.
Representation and target audience
The new video is clearly aimed at a western audience as it explains the situation and actions of the LRA in simple terms, something that Ugandans and much of the African diaspora is already well aware of. Though it is far more interesting and persuasive to hear more from Ugandan people on matters in their own country, this video is an example of too little too late. But still Invisible Children call for further action by volunteers.
“We can all do our part where we are with what we have,” says Keesey in the video. “We are a new generation of justice, made for such a time as this.” Images of the sun passing behind the Earth play through as he continues, “…because our liberty is bound together, across the world and across the street”. The music swells and teenagers in campaign t-shirts make a peace sign and jump in the air. It’s still nauseatingly evangelistic and mawkish toward the end.
Don’t think that the Kony 2012 campaign is done yet though. The video’s pay-off says, “Join us on April 20th, when we cover the night. Get ready.” We suspect this will be the organisation’s poster campaign. But it seems that Invisible Children damaged their reputation so badly that it can only gain diminishing returns each time it comes back with a new presentation.
Though people may now know a little more about Josef Kony, whether they care about Invisible Children any more is another thing. Finally correcting the message is not as effective if the vehicle it arrives in is already broken.