Capturing the “Bad Guy” – Kony 2012

Objectivity has never been my strong suit. When I feel passionately about a particular issue, I fall head over heels for it and that can get me in trouble. I’ve always considered myself a socially active individual, however one might define the term. I watch the news. I try to promote causes that I believe in. I stay aware of the current political and social climate. For this I’ve been called an idealist. I really want to make the world a better place and am still naive enough to think that if I continue to educate myself, that I can make a difference in the world.

I’m not ready to grow out of this idealism yet, but I have been taking strides to work on my objectivity. The controversial video Kony 2012, about Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, has become an overnight sensation and garnered the title of most-viral video of all time. Some people praise the film’s creators, Invisible Children, for their ability to educate so many people about this subject in such a short amount of time. Others claim that they are taking a longstanding issue and oversimplifying it until there’s nothing left but a “bad guy” to be captured.

Invisible Children campaign poster, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I wanted to read up on both sides of the argument before I watched what everyone has been talking about. While discussing how the Kony 2012 campaign ties into the greater issue of modern day genocide in our world, I couldn’t help but think of Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011. What does it say about our culture that we always need a villain to capture? The War on Terror will be worth it, if we kill Osama! Peace and prosperity will come to Africa, if we capture Kony! I fear that the oversimplification of the conflict in Uganda might lead to the arrest of Kony, but will not increase support for the continued restoration of resources and healing that the region needs.

After viewing the video, I understand that the producers believe that awareness is the first step in a long process, but I question how that process translates into action. Will we celebrate in the streets when Kony is captured like we did with Osama? Families have been torn apart, communities upended, and lives forever altered by Kony and the LRA. My biggest fear is that once we capture the villain and deem ourselves the savior, we will forget the work that’s left to be done.

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