It blew up the Twitter feeds. Everyone you knew was reposting it on Facebook. In only five days, it had received over 70 million views on YouTube. It was without a doubt one of the biggest social media campaigns this world has ever seen. That’s right, “it” is the “Stop Kony 2012” video sponsored by Invisible Children.
The 28-minute documentary spotlights Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, who is accused of overseeing the systematic kidnapping of thousands of African children. He then forces the boys to fight for him and turns the girls into sex slaves, killing anyone who doesn’t comply. The video then calls for the arrest of Kony before the end of 2012.
Any person, place, thing or idea that receives virtually overnight popularity becomes subject to mass amounts of criticism. The Stop Kony 2012 campaign is no exception. Invisible Children and its video have been under fire almost nonstop since the release. However, The Threefold Advocate believes its critics are too quick to find flaws and too slow to offer alternatives.
One of the major critiques of the Invisible Children involves their budgeting practices. Currently, only 37 percent goes to aid programs in Africa. The rest is spent on raising awareness and paying their management.
However, many critics fail to realize that Invisible Children is first and foremost an awareness organization. Their main goal is to raise awareness about the injustices occurring in Africa, not to directly help the mistreated. The fact that so much of their budget actually goes to the children is generous.
Secondly, many complained Invisible Children oversimplified the steps it would take to stop Kony in their video. They say it is much more complicated than simply changing your profile picture or hashtagging #stopkony.
However, we would argue the steps had to be simplified for the sake of the video. No average Joe is going to watch a 30-minute presentation on the complicated strategy involved in capturing the world’s most wanted. The video did what it had to do to make people aware, and just the sheer number of views is already putting pressure on the government to do something.
Finally, critics point out the risk involved in using the Ugandan army to carry out the Invisible Children’s plan. The Ugandan army does not have a good track record where human rights are concerned. The army has allegedly used child soldiers as well.
However, we recognize no part of this plan involves the ideal situation. Ideally, the Invisible Children would use an army just as concerned with human rights as they are. But in reality they are forced to use what is available and best in the situation. Even with the campaign’s flaws, the outcome will still be positive.
Therefore, we believe critics need to take a step back and stop criticizing just for the sake of criticizing. Most would agree Kony is a bad man who needs to be stopped. If you do not agree with Invisible Children’s attempts to do so, then you need to offer up a better solution instead of tearing down the one in place.