The Invisible Children Highlight Reel

Nine conclusions we can draw from the hype machine that was the viral advocacy campaign, Kony 2012. One of them was that ordinary Ugandans saw right through it.

Joseph Kony (Graphic illustration, source unknown).

Remember “Invisible Children” ? We don’t either. Yesterday they announced they’re winding up. Time to recall some highlights from the bullshit files. They were, frankly, full of it. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, if you gave Invisible Children an enema, they’d be buried in a match-box.

One, we didn’t enjoy the viral video. At all. This is what we wrote the day it dropped.

Two, if anything what Jason Russell, who has a background in musical theater, got out of the build up to Kony 2012, was a series of bizarre music videos, like this one.

Three, if you can remember, the mainstream media aided and abetted Invisible Children’s attention seeking. Like The Guardian, even after Invisible Children’s campaign was exposed for what it was.

Four, they called themselves the Invisible Children. We called them out as the Invisible Christians.

Five, they made instant Uganda experts out of everyone, including random musicians. Like Soulja Boy who raps over some terrible beat. Audio of Jason Russell is added for effect. Like we wrote at the time: “If you want to be tortured (go listen to it). This is not even a song. It’s like a monologue set to some vague drum beat. And he drops the word ‘swag’ a few times'”

Six, they also spawned Henry Morton Stanley fantasies.  Aftr #Kony2012,Robert Pelton, the author of the book The World’s Most Dangerous Places and rugged man’s man, who went on Kickstarter for an “Expedition Kony” like it was the mid 19th century.

Seven, among all the Invisible Children BS, there were also great steaming helpings of bat-shit to be had. For example, here’s Jason Russell’s reading of a Dr Seuss movie as call to save Africans: “[We] went out to see a movie, The Lorax, a Dr Seuss film. And I thought it was talking directly to me. I thought it was all about me. The character is wearing a stripy top like the one [his son] Gavin is wearing in the film and I was like, ‘That’s so weird!’ And the character is trying to protect these trees, and I thought it was me, and the trees were Rwandans.”

Eight, Ugandans saw right through it. Here’s journalist Rosebell Kagumire or people affected by Ugandan state violence. And months before the video was posted on Youtube, they could have asked Ugandan journalists and opposition activists what they thought about Kony or why Life President Yoweri Museveni and the US government focused so much on him.

Finally, the last word goes to UK comedian, Charlie Brooker who made the most sense:  “The only way a video could get more viral is if Susan Boyle and the Cat Bin Lady teamed up to eat shit out of one cup … It looks like a T-Mobile advertisement shot by the Pepsi Max pricks … with a charismatic front man who looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch version of Jesus Christ.”

Further Reading

The cemetery of cinema

Thierno Souleymane Diallo’s latest film traces his search for what is likely the first film made by a Guinean, in the process asking: how is a film culture possible when the infrastructure and institutions are lacking?

Whose democracy?

In Israel, tens of thousands have demonstrated against the new right-wing government’s plans for judicial reform. But what of the Palestinian question? In this episode of the podcast, we discuss.