Kony campaign causes sensation

Patricia Rocha, Reporter

Few Youtube videos capture as much attention as Invisible Children’s viral video Kony 2012.

The almost 30-minute video went viral recently as it campaigns to help the International Criminal Court arrest Joseph Kony for his many crimes against humanity in Uganda and other surrounding African countries. The video, which has been viewed more than 74 million times on Youtube, urges people to contact their local government to make sure the United States keeps an interest in its cause.

Bakersfield College students have taken notice of the video’s immediate popularity and commented on the recent interest in Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign.

“At first I thought it was just one of those videos where some guy shows off to the world his son or something,” said BC student Marily Mendoza describing her initial reaction to the video.

The production is narrated by Invisible Children activist Jason Russell, who hopes to have his son Gavin live in a world where people like Joseph Kony are brought to justice for their crimes. The video states that in the past 20 years Joseph Kony has kidnapped over 30,000 children for his child army and forced them to commit crimes such as mutilation and murder of their own parents.

“I started to look at it and that’s just cruel, I just couldn’t believe it. It was horrifying,” said Mendoza.

Student Ben Ablin said he felt it was interesting and he was intrigued by the video.

“It was well meant… somebody’s out there trying to get some word out,” Ablin said.

“To an extent it is getting popular because of the hipster, ‘oh lets support people who have problems’ thing… or whatever you want to call it, but then because of that, it is also getting a lot of attention through to people who could honestly care about something like this.

“If enough people see it, enough people will get involved. It’s like inviting people to a party. Invite 10 people, five people show up.”

The video has even created a nation-wide event that is supposed to take place the evening of April 20 where it urges its supporters to cover their towns in Kony 2012 posters and stickers to spread the message even further.

Student Adriana Ramirez said though she hasn’t seen the video yet, from what she’s heard from friends she would like to participate.

“I’ve never heard of anyone trying to do anything like this until now,” Ramirez said. “I think it’s important.”

Though the video has gained an amazing amount of support, its popularity has been followed by a large amount of controversy.

One factor leading people to question the intentions of the video is the fact that it asks of its viewers to purchase “action kits,” which contain posters and bracelets.

This has led many to question the motives of Invisible Children as a non-profit organization, but the members have been quick to respond on their website, stating, “We are committed, and always have been, to be 100 percent financially transparent and to communicate in plain language the mission of the organization so that everyone can make an informed decision about whether they want to support our strategy.” The website includes all of the financial information of the organization for all to see.

The organization has responded to many of the claims against it.

“Whether you’re criticizing Invisible Children or not, it’s not about us. I think that everyone can agree that this violence needs to stop and children should not be forced to fight,” said the organization’s movement director Zachary Barrows.

Despite the controversy, Ablin feels the purchase of the action packs is a good way to go about raising awareness.

“It’s the most convenient form of donating short of just sending them a check for ‘x’ amount of dollars,” he said. “There are people who won’t watch the video because it’s 30 minutes long. It’s kind of inconvenient as far as that can go, but if you see dozens of posters that say ‘Kony 2012,’ you’re like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ You Google him and you find the links, eventually you’ll either watch the video or find something leading to it that’ll explain it.”

Mendoza also agreed that the action packs are a proactive way of fundraising.

“If we’re trying to stop him we’re going to need those resources. We obviously need the money, so it’s a good idea,” she said.

Many feel the video is also a good representation of how the Internet and social media is changing the way we participate in our society.

“Something that would have taken days or weeks to get out is now world wide instantly. Someone in South Carolina can post a video and someone in New Zealand can watch it within two minutes,” said Ablin. “It’s made everything global and instantaneous.  It’s made the world smaller. Hundreds of people have said that, but it’s true.”