Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exposing the Exaggerations, Half-Truths and Lies of KONY 2012

Cutting Through the Propaganda and Mining the Most Viral Video in History for Accuracy and Factuality  

Let me start off by saying what really doesn't need to be said: Joey Kony is, in all senses of the word, a real, no-good, dirty S.O.B. The world would indeed be an infinitely better place sans his existence, and it would be quite nice if he was brought to justice by an International Court of some kind (or even better, he gets offed 'Kill Bill' style by one of those kids he abducted in the 1990s, who is now a kung-fu expert or something.) 

That said, I...and as it turns out, a whole lot of other people...have just a few criticisms of the recent Invisible Children-produced video "Kony 2012," which according to some sources, is the fastest spreading video in the history of the Internet

I guess before getting knee-deep in the content of the video, I should talk about the Invisible Children organization first. I first ran into some "representatives" of the organization a few years ago, and the thing that immediately struck me was just how white they were. Now, when I say "white," I don't mean "Caucasian-white," I mean "whiter than milk, paler than mayonnaise and more honky-fied than Perry Como." The fact that the plight of a million starving Ugandans had fallen into the laps of a bunch of credit-card using, marijuana-smoking, Mumford-and-Son-listening suburban trust fund babies was my first clue that - something - was up with this organization. 

I actually tried to arrange for an interview with my campus' Invisible Children chapter, several times. Initially, my thoughts were that the kids "in charge" of the organization had such infinitesimal knowledge of what they were crusading against that they refused to take me up on my offer, perhaps out of fear of being exposed as charlatans and trend-riding hipsters that use the latest and greatest international tragedy as an excuse to feel all right about themselves...even if the extent of their "activism" entailed screening a movie and holding a bake sale to combat warlord-ism 7,000 miles away. This was validated a little later on, when I had a kid - your typical, shaggy haired frat type - do a presentation in class about the Lord's Resistance Army, in which he couldn't pronounce "Idi Amin" or accurately find Uganda on a map during his power point presentation. 

From the outset, however, my greatest concern was how exactly the money raised in my metropolitan campus was going to FIND its way into the hands of re-constructionists and aid-workers half a planet away. Even WITH a complete and utter lack of transparency, the logistics of the program seemed highly suspect - a misgiving that was later confirmed, and then some

This, of course, brings us to the KONY 2012 video itself, a half-hour long infomercial for the Invisible Children movement, starring public masturbator Jason Russell as your stereotypical "concerned white person,"  who takes sole responsibility for provoking an international military movement and insinuates that the global community can triumph over a central African junta with the dual firepower of Tim Tebow's twitter account and some really shitty looking jewelry.

Admittedly, I wanted to hold out on viewing the video as long as I could, but as soon as I started hearing allegations of inflated statistics and misappropriated donation funds, my ears started to prick up. Upon hearing countless viewers cite the video as self-inflating, egotistical, hyper-exploitative bullshit, my curiosity really got piqued. And following Russell's recent public meltdown (or drip down, depending on how you want to describe his antics), I just had to view this thing for myself. 

What I'm doing here is giving you my patented video play-by-play. The official Kony 2012 video is posted below, so feel free to stop the embedded clip at the intervals listed below for both my insight and perhaps even a little fact checking. As it turns out, this Russell fellow makes some lofty claims, and more times than not...well, yeah, let's just say I'd reconsider hopping on ANY bandwagon this guy's a-driving. 

00:00:31 - - “There are more people on Facebook now than there were all the people in the world 200 years ago. So now, we can all be a bunch of culturally isolated losers that, somehow, have even smaller spheres of actual human interaction than we did following the French guldarn Revolution.” 

00:01:09 - - “So thanks to the wonder of the Internet, we can now experience high school-ish bullying and incessant exposure to idiotic bullshit for the REST OF OUR NATURAL BORN LIVES. Way to go, technology.” 

00:01:46 - - “And boy, is it ever so easy to pay attention with all of these quick cuts and flashes of arbitrary, inconsequential crap on my monitor…”

00:02:14 - - “Get it? BECAUSE WE’RE GIVING BIRTH TO A CULTURAL REVOLUTION RIGHT NOW! Jeez, these Invisible Children people are about as subtle as the Geto Boys.” 

00:02:43 - - “Well, I hope he’s saving up for therapy in addition to college for that kid now…”

00:03:29 - - “I really feel for that kid, I do. Such a complex world to figure out, while he sits around in his comfortable, two-story home, with hot water, and air conditioning, and a pantry-filled with food. It’s about time somebody got around to addressing their kind of plight.”

00:04:35 - - “You know, I really don’t think Jason Russell is racist at all. In fact, some of the best people he takes advantage of and exploits for financial gain are black.”

00:05:57 - - “Because the American media is so VIGILANT about exposing domestic poverty in all its incarnations. Without a doubt.”

00:07:13 - - “Exploitation, you say? You know, I’m just not seeing it here…”

00:08:08 - - “Jesus Christ, this Russell kid makes Bob Geldof look like the most self-effacing human being on the planet by comparison.”

00:08:46 - - “Well, I guess I’ll just come out and say it…holy hell, does this Kony fellow look JUST LIKE Carl Weathers in ‘Predator.’”

00:09:22 - - “I’m just glad to see that he’s exploiting BOTH white and black children now.”

00:10:18 - - “You know, just like the police. Or the military. Or the national guard.”

00:11:37 - - “Umm…those numbers may or may not be inflated. Just a bit.”

00:11:59 - - “Hey! So Russell and this Kony guy have the same M.O.!”

00:12:34 - - “You know, now may or may not be a good time to bring up the fact that the Ugandan ‘freedom  fighters’ backed by the IC have also been accused of rape, murder and kidnapping.  Or not.”

00:13:28 - - “Well, that statement can’t be used to describe EVERY OTHER violent or dictatorial force on the planet.”

00:14:08 - - “…except the U.S. already HAS involved itself militarily in Uganda. As in, a long time ago – but as we all know, FACTS ARE FOR LOSERS.”

I concur - Earth should be populated by NOTHING but frowny-faced white girls.

00:14:19 - - “Which is precisely why there ISN’T a furtive Cold War going on in the sub-Saharan region of Africa between China and the U.S. over natural resources, isn’t it?”

00:15:20 - - “Wait…if Uganda is ‘relatively safe,’ then why the hell are you even bothering with the project? Oh, that’s right…”

00:16:20 - - “And in case you were wondering, ALL of the Invisible Children’s donations went directly to such services. Well, “ALL”minus about 70 percent or so…”

00:16:39 - - “You know, when I see an ocean of white people with their fists raised in the air, looking all militant and stuff, forgive me if the first thing I think about ISN’T peace on earth.”

00:18:03 –“Proof positive that one man CAN make a difference…as long as he has enough people willing to send him tax-free donations, anyway.”

00:18:51 - - “Ahem! There’s a term I would like you to hear, called ‘proxy military force…’”

00:19:44 - - “Yeah…because wars in the U.S. have NEVER, EVER had popular domestic support before.”

00:20:14 - - “This has got to be the weirdest episode of ‘Doogie Howser’ ever.”

00:21:48 - - “And believe you me, those Ugandan forces are some upright, outstanding folks, I tell you what.

00:22:20 - - “Exactly. If I hadn’t been reminded EVERY SINGLE DAY for ten plus years, I totally would have forgotten about Osama Bin Laden, too.”

0:22:28 - - “Because Kony is the ONLY obstacle to domestic stability and peace within the region, you know.”

0:23:35 - - “Agreed, Mr. Clooney. Which is why you’re going to take the next $20 million you make off your next piece of shit movie and donate every cent to local reconstruction efforts, right?”

00:24:51 - - “You know what else would probably make the news? If you got drugged up and streaked around L.A., beating off in public. But yeah…that’ll never happen.”

00:25:00 - - “Huh…Russell, criticizing people for making propaganda. That’s sort of like a glass of milk calling a pitcher of O.J. “wet,” ain’t it?”

00:26:01 - - “So it was either use all of our riches to send food to Africa, or make bracelets for slacktivist college dickwads to spend $20 a pop on. It was a pretty obvious call, really.”

00:26:47 - - “So you want to galvanize and mobilize an entire nation of college students…on 4/20? You’d have a better shot of selling kielbasas outside the Dome of the Rock, amigo.”

00:29:00 - - “Yeah…looks like you’re going to need to get a “bail” fund started for that kid alongside the therapy bill.”

00:29:47 - - “Because peace and justice is something worth fighting for…and also, worth about $25 in upfront memberships fees, with additional monthly surcharges.”

Jason Russell, seen here in a rare photograph where he isn't jackin' it.

Needless to say, that was just about the worst thing I have ever seen, and I've seen both a documentary about Sarah Palin's 2012 presidential bid and a musical starring the Village People

I think it's pretty evident why so many people find the video offensive, and the facts behind both Russell and the Invisible Children organization are stacked enough to pretty much validate both entities as some unscrupulous company

Look, there's no doubt about it, what's going on in Uganda is some pretty sick and awful stuff, but you know what? You can say that about pretty much every country on Earth. Corruption and subjugation and poverty is rampant everywhere, and maybe, just maybe, we ought to be approaching such matters NOT as some multimedia, profit-oriented means of achieving moral satiation, but a global, infrastructural problem that requires strategic, geopolitical action as opposed to a bunch of college kids and shitty musicians getting on the YouTube and telling us to feel bad about stuff. Additionally, when you have people lobbying for a cause, and then THEY use mendacious and duplicitous things in order to achieve their agendas, that sorta' trivializes the entire issue they are fighting for, don't it? 

There are plenty of organizations out there that are proven to be legit, and unlike the Invisible Children frauds, they actually manage to get shit done in devastated places.  UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee...if you really want to help out the distraught and disenfranchised around the globe, try lending some spare change to organizations that are proven to be trustworthy and at least quasi-dependable.

That, and maybe you ought to think about doing a little something "more" for a cause than just slapping a bracelet on your wrist and sending e-mails to Jay-Z next time around. Just a suggestion.

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