It was two years ago when the message of The Invisible Children took the social media by storm. I remember watching the video posted by Jason Russell and his non-profit organization and how shocked and hurt I was, and how despicable I thought Joseph Kony was. Maybe I was naïve at the time but I thought why isn’t anyone doing anything, why can’t we stop him? I signed up and donated to the cause to make Joseph Kony visible and inform the world of this man’s existence. The Kony 2012 video is the most viral video of all time and has be shared, debated, and even criticized for being misinformed and inaccurate.
I recently read an article written by Jessica Testa from Buzzfeed.com entitled Two Years After KONY 2012, Has Invisible Children Grown Up, and it talks about the people behind The Invisible Children Campaign. Jason Russell, Lauren Poole and Bobby Baily started the Invisible Children campaign eight year before Kony 2012. It started as a documentary that the three shot after they graduated from film school. “Invisible Children: Rough Cut focuses on “night walkers,” or rural Northern Uganda children who used to walk into town each night to sleep in public and avoid capture by the LRA. It largely follows one former child soldier, Jacob Acaye, who watched his brother die after the boy tried to escape.” (Testa, 2014) Joseph Kony was the leader of the LRA militant group.
The three men attempted to get the film into Sundance, but were denied. They knew they had something big on their hands and had to get the message out to the public. They started by holding screenings of their film all across the West Coast and started a non-profit organization raising dollars in the millions and getting the attention of President Obama in 2010, who signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. Though the organization had success both Baily and Poole moved on from the company giving Jason Russell full creative control. On Monday March 5, 2012 The Kony 2012 video went viral receiving 100 million views in 9 days and beating out Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent performance. Even celebrities jumped onboard and tweeted out their support for the Kony 2012 campaign.
The Kony 2012 campaign did not go off without its share of controversy. Many critics called Russell and his team naïve and misinformed. Russell hit the spot light and hit it hard and got a huge dose of backlash. The name-calling and criticism took a toll on Russell and he had a very public breakdown where he roamed the streets of San Diego nude and was arrested and committed shortly after.
Today Russell says he is recovered from his meltdown and training for an ironman competition. He still fights for his cause and works full time for his non-profit organization and won’t stop until Kony is gone.