KONY 2012 viral video plagues Invisible Children with problems

KONY 2012 is the video produced by the Invisible Children Foundation targeting the ending of Ugandan War Lord Joseph Kony, which has gone viral on YouTube, blown up Facebook and Twitter and has sparked the world-wide efforts to capture the man responsible for so much death and abuse to children. This is an awful, terrible, truly heart-wrenching situation, but Kony has been committing these atrocities for the past 26 years … so why all of the hype now?

Please don’t misunderstand my feelings; I think that the enslavement of 30,000 children — boys for an army and girls for sex slaves — is completely terrible. However, my feelings toward the Invisible Children are less than forgiving.

The Invisible Children Foundation is a registered non-profit organization founded in 2004 to bring awareness to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa, and its leader, Kony. Specifically, the group seeks to put an end to the practices of the LRA, which include abductions and abuse of children, and forcing them to serve as soldiers.

To this end, Invisible Children urges the United States government to take military action in the central region of Africa. Invisible Children also operates as a charitable organization, soliciting donations and selling merchandise to raise money for its cause. The organization promotes its cause by dispensing films on the Internet and presenting in high schools and colleges around the United States.

The Invisible Children Foundation is all about stopping Kony. This is great, except that The Council on Foreign Relations has claimed that Invisible Children “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.”

He’s certainly evil, but exaggeration and manipulation to capture the public eye is unproductive, unprofessional and dishonest.

Still, the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on supporting African militias, but on awareness and film-making. As a non-profit, they are required to display their finances for open-source and public availability; only about 30 percent of the revenue that Invisible Children makes goes straight to the cause, while the biggest expenditures are film production costs and employee paychecks. How is that benefiting the cause today, when it is an issue that has been going on for a quarter of a century?

With 79,987,245 views (as of 6:44 p.m. on March 16), the Kony 2012 video is the most viral humanitarian video in history. However, this video caused Kony to move from his original hideout locations, to being on the move again.

My final comments regarding the issue are there are most likely more cost-effective ways to spread the word about the issue. Furthermore, if this is such a big deal, why did the hype die down after a week?

I’m not saying that these kids don’t need help; I’m just concerned with the fact that the organization’s funds are being used inappropriately. Oh and how in the world am I supposed to take the Kony 2012 video seriously when its producer/director is out practicing for the Underwear Olympics?

Good choice in directors, Invisible Children, good choice.