I’ve finally figured out why the popularity of the “Kony 2012” video has irritated me so much recently. There are a number of reasons, but the biggest is that it once again allows spoiled, ignorant, narcissistic westerners the chance to feel good about themselves — while their attitudes proclaim, “It’s all about me.”
The half-hour film called “Kony 2012” is an emotional propaganda film made by an organization called Invisible Children. It’s about a lunatic African named Joseph Kony, who operates a tiny (and shrinking) band of armed thugs in the jungles near Uganda. His group is called the Lord’s Resistance Army, and it’s been known to press children into service as its soldiers for years, in addition to mutilating people for various reasons. Kony is clearly an evil guy, but he’s more like a crazy man with a small group of remaining followers, not someone who’s growing in power.
The film features the director promising a man who’s been a victim of Kony that he will bring the murderous nut to justice. (The same director was arrested a few days ago for reasons that might have dealt more with substance abuse or psychiatric problems. It’s hard to say.) It also features the director’s young son as he learns about Kony and what he’s done. In other words, it’s all us.
I think something about this is reminding me of the various other “awareness” campaigns that come and go. Remember “We Are the World“? How about “Farm Aid“? Band Aid? Or any of the other things that become fashionable among trendy people with money — who feel some tiny bit of empathy for starving people or hurting people or victimized people for a brief minute in the middle of a concert or something — and feel really good about themselves as a result.
Exactly what good does it do to “raise awareness”? When the group behind that film says that, it means, “We want the U.S. government to send troops to go catch this man and his band of thugs.” In fact, when you give money to Invisible Children, some of the money goes to the Ugandan government. Both the organization and the Ugandan government are lobbying for the United States to send more military help to capture Kony.
And this is what the whole “Kony 2012” video is all about. It’s about sending the U.S. military into yet another country. Why else would they be trying to incite an American audience to be “aware” of the situation? They’re trying to manipulate us into supporting a war — a small war — that they want to fight.
Contrary to what some people believe, the United States isn’t the world’s policeman. There’s no U.S. interest involved in dealing with the problem. Despite this, Barack Obama has sent roughly 100 U.S. soldiers into the country to advise the Ugandans. It was because of U.S. advisors in Vietnam that this country became ensnared in that conflict.
If you’re upset about Kony and want him brought to justice, go to Africa and volunteer your services. Or raise money to pay for bounty hunters to go track him down. Let’s be honest, though. The world is far more complex than you realize. Uganda is more more complex. Africa’s political and tribal culture is nuanced and complicated. It’s far more than involved than you think from just watching some Internet video. Real life isn’t a TV “reality” show.
If you care enough to take the time to really learn all the facts and then pursue it, go right ahead. But don’t try to drag the rest of us into a fight that you get all emotional about because you saw a YouTube video about a place you’d never heard of an hour ago.
The fights that these people have around the world — and there are many of them — are about them. They’re not about you and the guilt you feel about having a better life than they do.