Joseph Kony, Invisible Children and gullible minds

Joseph Kony is a relatively unknown name unless you're among those who follow news that ended... six years ago. Perhaps breaking "olds" would be the more suitable name for the entire #StopKony/#Kony2012 campaign.
The following is a Bill Tran Rant:

Joseph Kony is a relatively unknown name unless you’re among those who follow news that ended… six years ago. Perhaps breaking “olds” would be the more suitable name for the entire #StopKony/#Kony2012 campaign, a trend coined on Twitter by the Invisible Children advocacy group.  That said, what is the “so-what” factor?  Well, apparently a well-made, MTV-esque half hour-long video called “Kony 2012” is enough for people to rally for support for events they aren’t even remotely educated about. This concerns me, as it should for everyone else with sensibility.

We live in the technological era, where word-of-mouth is more accurately word-of-media.  And the biggest problem with that?  Media isn’t always truthful.

Making a 30 minute video laced with outdated information taken out of context, and posting it on the internet as a campaign sounds like the perfect blueprint for how to stimulate emotional responses, which in turn, leads to profit. It saddens me to say this, but that’s essentially all it is.

Joseph Kony is indeed a very sinister man, being responsible for terrorising millions of people, whether displacement, child abduction, murder, the list goes on. Kony was convicted in 2005 for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Currently, Kony’s status is unknown: he’s either hiding in Uganda or a neighbouring country, or dead.  This is where Invisible Children comes in and flips the table.  A day after the release of their “Kony 2012” video, it’s gotten approximately 30 million views via YouTube and Vimeo. To sum up the video, it cleverly delivers facts to engage the natural emotional response of humans, essentially guilting us to step up and “do something” about it. Invisible Children thinks the exact thing we should do is cough up $30 and buy their “Action Kits” and collectively “cover the city” with Stop Kony posters on April 20, 2012. Only 31 per cent of the profits will go towards their campaign and the other 69 per cent is used by Invisible Children for themselves, you know, like going towards making even more misleading videos. Think about that: $10 (that’s rounded up!) will actually go towards the cause, the other $20 (that’s rounded down!) will be for Invisible Children to use for themselves.

Here’s my opinion of the entire Kony episode:

Yes, I whole-heartedly agree that raising awareness and coming together globally through social media is a very positive movement. No, making a video and using it for profits by bringing up an old topic, making it obvious that a bad guy is bad, practically stealing money out of people’s pockets by encouraging them to vandalise their city, causing the government to spend tax dollars to clean up the aftermath, and only achieving global awareness as opposed to action in the end is completely unacceptable. Bringing awareness towards Kony today, in 2012, is comparable to a campaign raising money for the 2005 Tsunami relief. It’s a campaign to initiate a man-hunt for a man that we don’t know whether or not is dead or alive.  Is it worth the time to spend millions of dollars to look for one man?  Or would it be more sensible to spend it on recovering Uganda?

Invisible Children, your children may be invisible, but your motives are not.

Please everybody, if you want to make a difference, write a letter to your government, go out and donate your money to a less-shady company, and do something worthwhile. Tweeting #StopKony doesn’t do anything. Writing “Dear Mr. Prime Minister/President” will. Quite frankly, there’s nothing stopping you. Check out the tumblr blog visiblechildren to get a better perspective. Or Google it, there are plenty of resources out there!

This is just my opinion, I simply believe there are much better ways of making a difference than to mindlessly buy action kits. I admit, 24 hours ago, I thought Kony2012 was some sort of public event, but I did my research, I scoured the internet. I got my answers. Do your research, make a difference. Don’t sheep around in the herded crowd of people who don’t have all the facts.

Thanks for reading. I think I would have done Rick Mercer proud.

Written By
More from Bill

Stampede 2012 Food Binge: Deep Fried Kool-Aid

Name of Food: Deep Fried Kool-Aid Where to Buy: Grannie's Cheesecake and...
Read More


  • Agreed, people should stop jumping on the bandwagon (both for and against), and start doing their own research. For instance, while only 32% of proceeds goes towards aid organizations, the purpose of Invisible Children is spreading word about Kony, not just providing aid. So while they may not be some evil organization out to steal your money, you should at least know where your money is going before your blindly donate. Infographic here:

    Don’t just listen to *just* visible children, or invisible children, do some research and choose for yourself.

  • I understand the perpspective demonstrated in this post as any single video capable of indoctrinating so many people for a single cause should be taken with care.
    It is true that more reasearch should be done unto the situation and the organization itself before any extensive action is taken…

    However, the matter of fact here is that what we are currently witnessing is noneother than what could be one of the greatest global awareness motion in the past centuries. Millions of people are gathered together in conformity for a cause that at the very least appears humanitarian to people. And truly, that is ALL that really matters. Every single tweet, share, and donation is a symbol of ACTION stemming from the desire to help. Now is not the time to disparage what effort people are putting in to help out.

    Sure, writing to the government and donating to a more recognized organization could potentially yield less risk and more results, but the fact is: These options have been open to people for decades and have been largely ignored by the majority of the population. Why then are we belittling an organization when it has just achieved the task of brining together such a large population of citizens on a global topic?

    To label KONY2012 as false would be just as bold as to follow it blindly. Have faith in the people around you for everyone has their own opinions and their own capacities of making what they believe to be the right decisions. Nobody knows with certainty the legitmacy of the intentions behind the KONY2012 event, but the one thing that we DO know is that, this event has achieved at creating more than 60 million potential global citizens.

    To conclude, I would like to affirm that this post is in no way meant to denounce what Bill has put out. In many ways, I am in corroboration with Bill’s post, and in the parts where I differ, that is solely my own personal opinion which I am simply throwing out there to bring out another dimension of the topic.

  • Despite the fact that there are indeed a lot of my own views expressed in what I will say, I have done quite a bit of research. I think conspiracy theories get out of control really fast, even though I have been known to agree with some of them. Although the internet is a great tool it is easy to find anything you want online arguments for and against the same issues are widespread and finding accurate sources or even making sure people are looking at multiple sources before going on a long winded blogging rant that someone else may take as the gospel is an issue.

    I find it hard to believe people can be against a movement looking to ameliorate lives, make children feel safer and bring a criminal to justice. I find it even harder to believe people can be so negative towards the way the movement has successfully taken off. Invisible Children originally released a documentary in 2006 about these issues and has been working towards the same goal for several years, they just hit the right chords this time with their marketing of the message. What I find almost more interesting is how well people received their documentary 6 years ago and even in comments as recent as two years ago, compared to now because it seems like a “trend”. They have had consistent goals and vision for their work in the region from what I can see. In reality social media wasn’t nearly as utilized that long ago and it makes sense how the progress of this movement has come together, in my view. Considering Americans rejoiced and supported finding and bringing to justice people like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden for their war crimes over a 10 year period of time, some could argue what is the difference in supporting the search for justice in the Kony case? Were Saddam and Osama more important because it was Americans and American interests they were seeking justice for? Should African children and families affected by Kony and the LRA not also have the right to find some solace? Just because Kony is no longer “active” we should brush it off and work on looking for someone else? Would we suggest the same for a criminal here at home? Absolutely not. Justice here is sought for crimes years after they were comitted. Oh, he is “weak” now. Great so I should feel bad for him? We should let him off the hook because he lost his influence and isn’t continuing to create havoc in the region?

    If you read up on Invisible Children you will see that they have been working in the Central African region for several years, since about when their first documentary was released, mainly building schools and funding development for child programs. In 2011, the Invisible Children organization spent just over 30% of their budget on those Central African development programs, but it is entirely normal for non-profit organizations not to allocate their entire budgets to their cause. As we all know, administrative fees, manpower and marketing all cost money. They also spent about 30% more on awareness programs which included travelling to schools across the country to spread their message and share their information with others. From what you have seen of the Kony 2012 movement thus far, it would be hard not to see that their allocation of funds to awareness and awareness materials, etc. have appeared to pay off. It may be just me, but I see the benefit that came out of their budget structure and as budgets often work, I could see it being adjusted now that they have made a name for themselves and will likely be receiving much more funding – there is more room for them to spend money on programs.

    Additionally, they are a registered non-profit with the American government, like all other non-profits in America are, and with that comes some accountability. The question of salary is somewhat absurd, it’s not as if they are the first people to work and earn a salary from a non-profit. Their salaries appeared quite comprable to what I would expect to see from “executive” level non-profit positions here.

    I am hosting a Calgary fundraiser as part of the Kony 2012 YYC movement and I feel like it is a great cause to support. I am going to be donating half the proceeds to IC and half to Save the Children which is a known “reputable” organization that works in two LRA affected areas. Just because I am in support of the movement doesn’t mean I am “gullible” or uneducated.

  • Haha What can I say…. Jason’s meltdown demonstrated the passion that he held for his cause.

Comments are closed.