KONY 2012 sparks political awakening of youthWednesday, March 07, 2012 By Garrett Mitchell
In what began as a short film campaign dedicated to make Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony notorious for his crimes against humanity, KONY 2012 has become an internet sensation practically overnight for the Invisible Children organization. The video has gained a nearly instantaneous following, as it frequents Facebook walls across the world, attempting to bring Kony to justice by the end of the year. Through promoting this message with human elements and touches, the director, Jason Russell, causes the audience to both sympathize and empathize with Kony's victims. The goal of the film is to educate the viewers, primarily young people, to take a stand and make others aware of Kony's actions. Overexposure of Kony's name and his deeds are what will ultimately draw people to the movement and be provoked to stop him. "We're going to make Joseph Kony a household name. Not to celebrate him, but bringhis crimes to the light," Russell said in the video. Russell hopes to collect the support of celebrities, athletes, and billionaires to spread the word about Kony, further educating others. Then, the supporters will "target" key policy makers who can keep American advisers in Africa to ultimately track Kony and his forces down. Action kits from Invisible Children are available, which will provide supporters with bracelets, posters, stickers, and signs to plaster throughout their towns to raise awareness of Kony. According to the video, people can receive these kits for free once they've donated money through TRI each month. On April 20, the movement plans to "cover the night," meaning the culmination of various resources and members to completely throw Kony into the consciousness of citizens in a multitude of cities. Meeting at sundown, the activists plan to cover every street and corner with posters about Kony. Upon discovering how the video was being shared over Facebook, one Buena High School senior, Seth Bitsoie, established the "KONY 2012 Sierra Vista" group on Facebook. "I want to help. I want to make a difference. Which, of course, lead me to create this group on Facebook, to start the movement here in our own town," Bitsoie said. After nearly two hours online, the group had garnered 1,240 members, all with the same goal to educate others about Kony. Bitsoie finds the sudden popularity of the page to be comforting. "I think that this will definitely cause most to pay closer attention to what is going on around the world," Bitsoie said. "But for some, I don't doubt this will be just a fad, that they wanted to be a part of." "Social media is what caused this movement to be joined by over a thousand people in this town. The ability to instantaneously share a story with thousands from your own area was the driving force that pushed this group to the point that it's at now," he added. The reaction to the page has encouraged the cause in the area, notably among other high school students. "I've come to notice that everyone seems to be very much in favor of it all. Notes and messages of strong belief are what mainly have been flowing in and some people have even gone to to purchasing the kits from the people leading the movement," Bitsoie said. Former Students Against Genocide president, senior Callie Perkins, discussed KONY 2012 at the club's latest meeting on March 7. "Kony has been terrorizing northern Uganda, southern Sudan, Chad, and the Congo for over 26 years. This video brought to light what is happening," she said. "In reality, it's just a Facebook trend. We've got to do something to make it lasting and get people to research more about genocide," Perkins added. "It's always great to see kids informing themselves about what's going on. Invisible Children is a great organization to support." "I think we make more of an impact when we help those being victimized by the LRA," Perkins said in opposition of the proposed "Cover the Night" activity. "It can easily be construed as vandalism," she added. Junior Nick Cervantes, despite coming across the video during the Facebook frenzy, has some expectations for the movement. "My hopes are that people can become more aware about the genocide occurring in African countries and do research about what they can do to help in every aspect, not just for one cause," he said. The buzz from this issue may eventually fizzle into obscurity, something which many have noted. "There's always that chance people could simply be treating it as a phase, however, I've never seen this much momentum behind a group with this much dedication," Cervantes said. Viewing the various reactions he saw on his news feed, Cervantes describes his Facebook friends as being stunned, surprised and shocked. "People haven't been informed about this issue, including myself. It's absolutely insane that this was able to go on for so long," he said. "The way Jason Russell is able to communicate the issue emotionally really will bring people together. He's able to capture and inspire people with this video. Bringing attention to an issue is important, but giving an emotional appeal will really drive everyone in," Cervantes said regarding the video. Senior Leslie Evans was drawn to the various reactions she saw displayed online. "It's an eye opening issue that almost everyone would be touched by. Even if it didn't evoke powerful emotion from some of us, as teenagers we'll care just because everyone else does," she said. "You can't complain if people are willing to care for a short amount of time instead of not at all," Evans said. "And if the subject is brought up, at least they'll have an understanding about it and maybe those old feelings and hatred about the subject will re-spark their interest in stopping Kony." Another Buena senior, Daniel Hughes, discovered the video on Facebook. "I was browsing the internet at a late hour as usual, and I stumbled across the video about Kony. It was posted by multiple friends, so I decided I should take a look," he said. "At first, I was a bit unconvinced. I have seen many videos begging for donations for one cause or another. As the video went on though, I began to realize that this was a major issue. If it warrants the attention of many policy makers, celebrities, and even our president, it's doubtful that it is a scam. Feelings of anger at the wrongdoings of this man, of sorrow for the victims of this tyrant, and of passion to want to support the cause all flooded my head," Hughes said. He shares the same reservations as Cervantes has about the mission becoming a fad. "Unfortunately, I think it will just be a phase for many. I could be wrong though. SOPA and PIPA got huge support as well." he said. "The internet changes the way the game is played, and maybe the ease of access to information will make more teenagers become politically involved," Hughes added. Hughes finds the reactions he's seen so far to be refreshing in what many deem as a politically apathetic generation. "With this cause, people are coming together rather than apart. Our nation's problems pale in comparison to this issue," he said. "Let's bring justice to Kony, one supporter at a time." For more information about KONY 2012, visit the Invisible Children website, where those interested may sign pledges for the cause. There are also pages for donations and how to receive the action kits.