Kony 2012 is a perfect example of a phenomenon generated by the public sphere backed by the undeniable power of the media. Kony 2012, for those of you who were busy for the 6 days that the globe stopped for Kony, is a half-hour documentary, backed by Invisible Children, which used the power of social media to bring light to the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army who were responsible for the enslavement of more than 30,000 chidren.
The moral panic of the experiences and livelihood these children were exposed to generated the power and awareness that resulted in 100 million views within the first 6 days of the documentary’s release. As well as the following unbelievable statistics;
The astounding success of Kony 2012 was also heavily influenced by the likes of celebrities including popular icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Gosling and Justin Bieber, as well as influential political leaders such as Barrack Obama.
But was Kony 2012 more or less a result of moral panics?
Kony and the LRA have been operating for close to 30 years, and Col. Felix Kulayige, a Ugandan military spokesperson believes that ‘it’s the right message but it’s 15 years too late‘. The media attention surrounding Kony may in fact hamper attempts to catch the warlord, as military operations had been well underway several months prior to the launch of the Kony 2012 campaign, and may see Kony flee once again.
Another criticism surrounding the Kony 2012 campaign is that only a 37% of funds raised are directed towards central-African related programs. Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children’s Director of Ideology states that ‘the truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organisation… but an advocacy and awareness organisation’. Therefore, the funds that society donated, to what they thought would help these helpless children in Uganda, in fact, were mostly contributing to financing their marketing campaigns.
The concepts discussed including; moral panics, the mediated public sphere, the concept of controversial texts through denotations and connotations and the issue of children and the media have all redirected my views regarding the Kony 2012 campaign and the Invisible Children organisation. The campaign itself created awareness for a very important global issue, but has deeper meaning than what was surfaced to the media.