Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony 2012 or CONny 2012?



Everywhere I look, people are spamming messages about Kony on their walls, in their tweets, Tumblr and anywhere they can find in the internet. Most of my friends are doing that too, believing that by sharing about Kony, some miraculous event would happen and he would be removed from power by the end of this year and the world would then go back to being a just and happy place.

If you have yet to hear about this entire "make Kony famous campaign" run by an organization called Invisible Children, chances are you will soon. It is by far one of the most successful viral campaigns this year, with its video hitting millions of views in just a very short time, and people are passionately sharing the message everywhere (but please don't watch the video, read about him here on the Wiki page instead here). While I do not doubt the sincerity of the people trying to do their part, I do however, highly doubt the real purpose behind this campaign itself.

Of course, I do have to clarify first that I'm no expert when it comes to the Ugandan issue and also the accountability of Invisible Children, there are quite a number of articles that have been written across the web, questioning the various parts of the campaign itself, from the relevance to the message to the accountability of the filmmakers to the effectiveness of the campaign itself. The people who wrote the post have clearly done more work and research than me, and have quite a number of solid facts to back up their arguments. The links are posted at the end of this post.

What I have to say however, is why you should not share the campaign itself, based on a few opinions that I have. You disagree with it if you want, all I aim is to offer an alternative viewpoint to the mainstream thinking. After all, going with the popular viewpoint is too mainstream.

Firstly, as someone who have done videography myself, and studied about it too, one can say that documentaries like this are highly subjective and far from neutral. Because when you're looking at a video, you're basically looking at what the videographer wants you to see. He can choose to focus solely on point A and ignore points B, C and D and you would not be aware of it, because all you would be watching is that video, unless you do additional research on it or unless you're an expert on the matter shown in the documentary.

Besides, by bringing in a narrator to guide you through the video, you don't really have much of a thinking space on your own. The narrator would tell you what to think and what to feel and subconsciously, you would then pick up the narrators point of view. One thing to take note though, is that narrators, or storytellers, are also often far from neutral. They bring in their own perspective and their own feelings and through their narration, they try to make you think the same way too. You're not given room to formulate your own perspective during the video, with the narrator telling you that you should feel this, this and this, and he could tell you that A is B and you wouldn't really know it because you have not heard of it before.

Just imagine if the filmmakers had chosen to focus on something else, for example the atrocities done by the Ugandan government themselves (which they do) and painting Kony as a hero for opposing their rule and conveniently excluding the fact that he abducts children, I'm sure that the reaction would have been quite different and the bad guy would have been a totally different guy too.

For me, the video is something like a propaganda itself. When a emotionally charged message is included in a grey scenario, I believe that one should look at the motives behind the video itself, do a bit of research before jumping into the bandwagon and doing everything the video asks you to do. From how I look at the primary message of the video, which is to make Kony famous, I interpret it as more to trying to make the Invisible Children organization famous instead.

By asking you to just share the video, and masking it under the pretense of doing good, I have a feeling that the filmmakers are more interested in getting themselves and their organization viral rather than to get their cause viral. I highly suspect that that is the primary purpose of the campaign instead of helping the children.

Furthermore, I also dislike how the filmmakers employ a cheap Psychological trick to further their goal of making the video viral.

Us humans are creatures who are very sensitive to negative emotional states (in fact research has shown that we react more to negative stimuli more than positive ones) and when we would want to avoid feeling bad at all cost, if given an option. By making us feel bad during the video, which we would naturally want to avoid, and later giving an easy option of simply clicking the share button, the filmmakers know that we would be more than inclined to click it. Because we would want to alleviate the negative emotions that we have just experienced by watching the video and clicking the share button gives us the illusion that we're doing something and makes us feel good after that. It's an effective psychological trick.

After all, how effective is simply clicking the button is gonna be? It doesn't really change anything (except for the fame of the filmmakers) and it gives us the illusion that we have done "something" at least, which is better than nothing, and also much better than the guys who are also sitting in front of the computer doing nothing too except ranting away on a blog post (Well, my war is on the internet front anyway, which is calling for you all to be more critical of what you watch on the internet so I don't see anything wrong with that).

I'm not saying that the campaign is entirely useless though. It did raise quite a lot of awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Uganda but I think that aside than just hitting share, if you are really passionate about it, you should go more than that. Being aware of injustice is one thing, doing something about it is another. After all, I'm sure we are all aware of bad things happening around the world (North Korea, Myanmar, just to name a few) but that's as far as where we'll go. Even though we might be aware of it, if we don't do anything concrete about it, nothing is gonna change.

And when sharing stuff on the internet, especially when the stuff is emotionally charged and laced with politics, it's best to do more research about it to determine the authenticity of it and whether that stuff is relevant or not. Be critical. Don't be afraid to question. Because there are many EVIL people in this world that would not think twice about manipulating your own feelings to further their own goals, so it's always good to be alert.

For more alternative viewpoints surrounding the Kony issue, you can go to these following websites. It never hurts to get as much information as possible.

ShareThis

Related Posts with Thumbnails