Don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us […]

I heard about Invisible Children through high school friends but I did not get serious and more informed about it until freshman year at Chapman when I watched one of their first films on their, Tony, in 2010. Invisible Children made a significant impact in my life from that point on.

Cut to March 5th, 2012.

At this point in my life, I’m heavily involved in Action in Africa, who has overlapping club members with Chapman’s Invisible Children branch. At this point in time, I would do anything in support of this organization. After watching the Kony 2012 film, I couldn’t concentrate on anything after that experience, being with passionate friends and meeting other IC roadies that road tripped to Orange.

Why did Kony 2012 erupt into a huge, chaotic, momentary controversy? Slacktivism: the “feel-good” measure to support an issue or social cause that has little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel some amount of satisfaction with minimal effort. Why did it get so much attention? Because it was visualengaging, and emotional. How did it reach such a huge range of people? The simple idea of sharing. Despite the controversy surrounding the motives of the organization, Kony 2012 is a prime example of a successful campaign utilized by new media. Kony 2012 spread the word, encouraged interaction and sharing, presented a call to action, and influenced a generation. Kony 2012 completely took over those two to three weeks following the premiere. The social media hurricane swept through and engulfed the country. However, once the initial impulses died down over the following couple days, I became more aware of the overwhelming support and overwhelming backlash over the organization and intentions of the film.

There are a few simple things that I realized: Kony 2012 was propaganda, which made it misleading to those who weren’t educated, but it was effective. Because the film is on the voiceover, first-person platform from founder Jason Russell, it allows his audience to relate with the filmmaker, and he overwhelming advocates more than strictly educates. Russell had his son Gavin embedded into the discourse of the viral video for emotion, addressed perfectly by Heather McIntosh,

One way that Russell attempts to force our identification with him is through his son, Gavin. Discourses about leaving the world a better place for the next generations are common. Few want to leave the world in worse shape for children, either others’ children or their own. We see the video of Gavin’s birth, pictures of him growing up, and videos of him making up stories, acting, and even making his own videos. We get the point — Gavin’s a cute kid.

But in a way, that was the key component they should have stressed first: educating others. Invisible Children offered up answers in response to criticism, and the film presented facts so that those who were interested in learning more were able to. It inspired a nation, and paved the way for other organizations to take initiative in a call-to-action movement: Cover the Night, a follow-up film MOVE, Lobby DC, etc.

Photos courtesy of Carol Hunter

Cut back to March 5th, 2012.

It’s surreal when you meet a survivor of the war, Papito—genuinely one of most gracious people on Earth—tie a bracelet around your wrist and have a casual conversation with him, talking about Invisible Children, talking about the cause, talking about life. I was more than inspired by all of this. I was motivated and determined.

“Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. Yes is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.” // Stephen Colbert




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