This Friday, Invisible Children activists will take to the streets for the Stop Kony campaign’s worldwide rally, “Cover the Night.” This event was publicized in the campaign’s film, KONY 2012, but with all the controversy and skepticism surrounding the video, many predict its success is questionable.
Early last month, Invisible Children launched its “Stop Kony” campaign and the KONY 2012 film. The thirty-minute video became viral virtually instantly, and has garnered approximately 90 million views since its release. It provided background information on Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. The Lord’s Resistance Army kidnaps children and coerces them into serving Kony as soldiers in his armed forces. In the film, Invisible Children appeals to viewers, asking them to spread awareness about this human rights issue and promote change.
Along with its extreme popularity, KONY 2012 has come under a great deal of scrutiny. Various allegations have been made regarding how threatening Kony truly is, how Invisible Children handles its revenue, and how credible the film is. Respected newscasters, experts, and ordinary citizens have brought these questions forward.
Late last month, shortly after the release of his film, the director of KONY 2012 and founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, experienced a brief public mental breakdown in San Diego. He was brought into the custody of a psychiatric ward after he was reportedly seen running through traffic in his underwear, drunk, and masturbating in public. His wife attributed the episode to the shock and stress of the “Stop Kony” campaign. Such an event damaged the credibility of Russell and Invisible Children.
Despite the controversy and bad publicity, there are many supporters that are still dedicated to Invisible Children’s cause. Activists involved in the campaign aim to use social media to help bring about global change. Whether the campaign can weather the storm of criticism and waning popularity remains to be seen.