The other day I noticed the Kony 2012 video
by Invisible Children that has been receiving a great deal of attention on the Internet as of late (it’s received over 56 million views on YouTube
). I watched the video and was immediately curious. Evidently, the video has received multiple lines of serious criticism. No one denies, of course, that Joseph Kony must be brought to justice. But Invisible Children’s methods (and in some respects even intent) are highly questionable. I’ll mention just a few of the criticisms brought against the film and the movement.
Chris Blattman, a Poly Sci & Econ Assistant Professor at Yale, argues
not only against the style of the film (“the hipster tie and cowboy hat” and the “macho bravado” tend to detract from the message) but also against the notion of rescuing or saving African children: “It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming.” One result, says Blattman, “is a lot of dangerously ill-prepared young people embarking on missions to save the children of this or that war zone. At best it’s hubris and egocentric. More often, though, it leads to bad programs, misallocated resources, or ill-conceived military adventures.” Finally, Blattman is also troubled by the film showing the faces of child soldiers, as well as implying (erroneously and incredibly) that the US and Invisible Children “were instrumental in getting the peace talks to happen.”
Grant Oyston, Sociology and Poly Sci student at Acadia University, has made several criticisms
—such as the fact that “[m]ilitary intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away” (q.v.
)—and also provided links
to many others as well. Among the latter, perhaps the most important are lawyers Kate Cronin-Furman and Amanda Taub’s article, “Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’
,” which raises methodological criticisms, and writer Joshua Keating’s post “Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things)
,” whose chief argument is that IC “has made virtually no effort to inform” concerning important details (such as where Kony is located, where the LRA’s members are currently distributed, and how many “mindless child soldiers” the LRA presently has).( Collapse )
Meanwhile, IC has responded
of the above criticisms, and the group certainly has its defenders (e.g.
), but it would seem IC has yet to address one of the main claims many are raising: that it is working with groups that are guilty of the same atrocities as the LRA.Here
is another recent source attempting to make sense of the issue.
I’m still wading through some of the various criticisms and IC’s response, but I tend to think IC’s basic motives are pure, but their methods and strategic intent are questionable and in various ways even dangerous. What do you