As much as I have passed up other social media trend in the past like posting my bra color in my Facebook status for breast cancer awareness, I let curiosity get the best of me with Kony 2012. Who is Kony 2012? Maybe the first girl of Kourtney Kardashian? You can’t tell me that Kourney isn’t thinking,
“That name would be totally cute and fit in with all of our “k”s – Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendal, Kylie and Kony.”
Turns out I was so wrong.
I clicked on the youtube video and there was the giant globe and the voice that started with, “Right now there are more people…”
Whenever that happens and no matter what the voice says next I get chills. The next words could be, “blowing their noses” , but I still get the chills. Sure enough it’s an amazing technology stat about how we are wasting our lives on Facebook. There are more people on Facebook at this moment than there were on the planet hundreds of years ago. Way to go world! Most of us are playing Bejewelled Blitz or harvesting our imaginary vegetables in Farmville. Our ancestors would be so proud at our ability to waste time.
Anyway, the video goes on to tell the horrible story of child soldiers in Uganda and their leader Kony responsible for the horrible crimes. Since there are over 57 million viewers, I am going on the assumption that you have also seen the video. Let me say this right now and make it absolutely clear: The fact that there are child soldiers anywhere is absolutely terrible..
Here is why I am giving this film two stars (insert gasp, shock, outrage from general public)
First, this is not a new problem or the first time this has been reported on. I have seen numerous stories on this through the years
Second, the film is beautifully produced and it should be with what I’ve heard is over a $1.5 million budget almost 1/3rd of the Invisible Children budget. The filmmaker, an American, focuses most of the film around his incredibly adorable child of around 5 years old understanding what dad does to save these children. I believe I have seen this kid before in one of the Pottery Barn Kid catalogs I receive each month. Dad/filmmaker/child soldier saver is incredibly hot which also adds appeal to this film. Dad could have made a film about the bed bug problem in NYC and I would have been inspired to do something. Point is, it doesn’t matter what he was talking about, I was sold!
There is a point in the film where he has his 5 year old son explain this 20 year war in Uganda. Was anyone else offended by this? Now, maybe my expectations are too high. I mean there are still a lot of Americans who believe Africa is a country. Maybe it was necessary to have his 5 year old cutie sum up a 20 plus year conflict by saying things like, “Daddy, you fight bad men.” Never mind, he also leaves out all of the Ugandans who have also been fighting this bad man for decades.
Then the movie goes on to tell the story of the child soldiers in Uganda and specifically focuses on one boy the Dad/filmmaker/child soldier saver keeps up with through the years. The personal connection to the boy is an incredibly emotional experience in the movie and on thing was extremely very well done! From there the message moves on to discuss how we, the world is going to find Kony, the head war lord, and bring him to justice. It’s going to be done with yard signs, everybody looking for him, bracelet wearing for the cause and calling on celebrities and politicians to help with the fight.
After a shot of the filmmaker’s son’s headshot, George Bush’s picture was on the influential politician list. I think the only thing he can influence right now is a tee time at the local golf course. The other thing is if this is truly a global effort like the film says, I am going to make a suggestion that hiring Nazi hunters might make a bit more sense in finding a war lord in a jungle. Think about how long it took us to find bin Laden and he was living in a suburb taking his kid to soccer practice.
One of my first jobs was working for a social marketing NGO that worked in 49 countries around the world. Their focus is HIV and malaria prevention. I was fortunate to travel to Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya. I learned so much about the various countries in Africa and especially the pros and cons of international aid and American intentions. What I learned is we, Americans, frequently over simplify issues in Africa. Example, the movie makes us believe that if we find Kony and arrest him and there will be no more child soldiers. It’s that simple? The film sure makes it seem so. If I wear a bracelet, post some yard signs (all of which they will send me with my donation) and look real hard around Johnson County, KS I might be part of the solution. Give me a slight break. If you think Kony is the only bastard in on these type of abuses you are so wrong. I understand that he hasn’t even been in Uganda in years.
I can also probably safely assume that a war lord with that kind of power has a long line of successors ready to take his place at a moments notice. Then what? Taking out the ring leader doesn’t erase the fact that driving this extreme behavior is based on drastic realities of poverty and disease the likes of which we Americans can never understand.
I sincerely applaud the efforts of this film maker to draw attention to this problem of children soldiers. If this has raised awareness among youth in our country that is going to inspire some to make a career out of advocacy and international aid then that is time well spent. I hope this inspires others to travel to countries in Africa. The people I met in the various countries in Africa are some of the happiest and most loving people in all of the world. Their culture and spirit is something we can all learn from. .
Am I going to wear a bracelet or put up a yard sign? Nope, I understand this movie is about a third of Invisible Children’s overall budget. I prefer more aid projects on the ground in Uganda than making movies. (I also need my landscape space for all of my Obama 2012 yard signs) Also, trust me, Kony is not hiding out in suburban America. It’s so white out here that there is no way the guy would last 10 minutes and not be pulled over by the police just for driving down the street doing nothing. On second thought, Kony you have an open invitation to come stay at my house in Johnson County, KS. We have an extra bedroom that I am happy to provide you with for as long as you need. You can come to the country club and we will play a round of golf. I am sure nobody will notice you at all and you will blend right in. (wink wink)