On March 5, the nonprofit organization Invisible Children published a 30-minute short film on YouTube and Vimeo with the intention of making Joseph Kony, head of the terrible African militia Lord’s Resistance Army, the most famous person in the world. The video, which kicked off the Kony2012 campaign, aimed at raising Kony’s profile worldwide so that he would eventually be arrested by the end of 2012.
It didn’t work.
The video became a viral sensation. All of a sudden, people who had no idea Uganda was a country in Africa (much less locate it on a map) were talking about Kony’s atrocities and how he must be stopped. Celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, P. Diddy, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah tweeted a link to the video to their millions of followers. Every single person in the world wanted to stop Joseph Kony at all costs.
But then… nothing happened. Retweets and Facebook posts didn’t solve anything, so people just stopped caring. The meme became one of the better examples of slacktivism gone wrong—and was made worse by allegations of Invisible Children’s mismanagement of funds and founder Jason Russell’s crazy naked breakdown.
But hey, millions of people felt like they did some good.
How much will it cost to capture Joseph Kony? $3 million. The price required to help build a Tibetan militia that will resist Chinese rule? $350,000.
For albums and artists, there’s Kickstarter. For bankrolling the implementation of crowd-funded warfare, it’s best to turn to Kickstriker.
Founded last week by three graduate students in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, Kickstriker is the leading fundraising platform for activists, engineers and others working to resolve global conflicts.
“We believe that crowdfunding holds the potential to address many conflicts around the globe by allowing those who care to directly support potential solutions,” the students wrote on the site’s About page.
“These solutions might take the form of military action, supplying equipment and arms to those in need or the development of new military technologies with immediate applications in the field. Rather than waiting for national governments, coalitions and international bodies like the UN, NATO, EU and AU to decide to address a conflict—a process that can take years of deliberation—Kickstriker users are funding solutions that can be on the ground in weeks.”
The site does comes with one little caveat, however: it’s fake—basically. You can’t actually give money to Capture Kony: Bring Joseph Kony to Justice no matter how enticing the rewards. ($50,000 donations net you one of Kony’s teeth. $1 million gets you the warlord’s entire skull.)
Instead, clicking through to pledge for a Kickstriker project leads visitors to a dialog box, one that gives you the chance to donate money to four charities actually worthy of your money. Right now, the charities offered include Reprieve, an organization working to enforce the human rights of prisoners; the African Youth Initiative Network, a group that strives to rehabilitate youth affected by the war in Uganda; the Tibet Fund, an organization dedicated to improving the livelihood of Tibetans; and the American Civil Liberties Union, a group that advocates for the implementation of national security policies that are consistent with the Constitution.
“Our starting point was ‘Kony 2012’,” site cofounder Mehan Jayasuriya told Tumblr blogger Evan Fleischer. “We all really liked Teju Cole’s piece in the Atlantic (“The White Savior Industrial Complex”) and were talking about what James has called the ‘commodification of altruism.’
“Our initial idea was to use the project page for Kony to take that idea to its logical, ghoulish conclusion. From there we came up with the DIY drone idea—since we’re all DIY technologists of a sort, it was easy for us to imagine a project that would appeal to many geek sensibilities (open-source! Arduino!) in a way that would pull people in, despite the terrifying implications of putting something like this out into the world. And from there we just started spitballing ideas for projects—whatever made us laugh the most made it in to the site.”
With more than one million posts last year, Canvas is the image board of choice for meme junkies. Every afternoon, the Daily Dot highlights a collection of images that reflect Canvas users’ current obsession.
Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and it looks like the time has come for Joseph Kony, the charismatic head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force of African children his supporters have kidnapped, brutalized, brainwashed, and enslaved.
After nearly thirty years terrorizing villages across Central Africa, first in Uganda and now in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan, what could possibly bring down the seemingly-invincible rebel chief?
Fame. And what brings fame to those who would prefer not to seek it out? Social media.
The nonprofit group Invisible Children has released a documentary, Kony 2012, with the stated aim “Make Kony Famous.” They have, to a truly remarkable degree, succeeded. Last night the video exploded across multiple Web communities: (cont.)
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Tumblr curated by Fernando Alfonso III (@fernalfonso), Aja Romano (@ajaromano) Gaby Dunn (@gabydunn), and Logan Youree (@loganwtf).