UPDATE, March 16, 5:15 pm.: It's being widely reported that Jason Rusell, co-founder of Invisible Childen and narrator of KONY 2012, was arrested yesterday morning in San Diego
for masturbating in public.
[Editor's Note: No, we're not making this up. Yes, this is the weirdest update to a film review you will ever read.]
responded to reports of a screaming, half-naked man who seemed to be
either vandalizing or trying to break into vehicles. It was Russell.
Rather than arrest him, the cops arranged for him to receive medical
care, based on his behavior. NBC San Diego was first with the news. Here's where you can read their story and see an official statement on the incident from Invisible Children. Or you can go to TMZ and watch a video of a man the website claims is Russell acting loco.
ORIGINAL POST, March 9, 10:36 am: In case you haven't noticed, the internets are all abuzz over KONY 2012, a documentary by the San Diego-based non-profit Invisible Children
that aims to prove the somewhat questionable point that social media
can make an already reviled Ugandan war criminal even more reviled,
thanks to the miracle of Twitter. As the LA Times pointed out yesterday,
the film's big innovation is to target 20 A-list celebrities who you
can poke to action on the film's website above. Courtesy of the Times, btw, here's noted scholar Kim Kardashian's response to the film: “Wow just watched! What a powerful film! Stop Kony!!!”
Joseph Kony is a bad guy, that's for sure. But according to Peter Ngugi, OC Weekly's very own intern from Uganda-neighboring Kenya
(who doesn't have his own blog account so I'm posting it for him)
that's about all you can say in defense of KONY 2012 the movie.
Read Peter's review after the jump…
For those living away from the fangs of social media, this a documentary
made by the non-profit organization Invisible Children out of San
Diego. The film is narrated by Jason Russell, a co-founder of said
outfit who is balls-out to make Mr. Kony, the infamous leader of the Uganda-based Lord's Rebel Army, or L.R.A., which made a name
for itself praising Jesus while chopping families to pieces and
recruiting child soldiers, into a household name.
“99 percent of the world does not know who he is nor has a clue as to
what he has done nor accomplished,” Russell says. Starting from this
statement of ignorance, Russell then explains Kony to his young son,
Gavin. In doing so, he simplifies the atrocities that Kony has committed in such a
child-like way that anyone who has a real understanding of the L.R.A.
will want to poke their brain out with an ice pick and flush it down the
Indeed, in this toddler-friendly film, neither the L.R.A. nor its
26-year evolution in the context of Uganda's endemic ethnic strife is
explained. Russell does not explain how we got to the point where we are
today, with Kony and what's left of his ragtag rebel army on the run,
chased by Ugandan soldiers, United Nations troops, and–that's right, John Wayne–even 100 U.S. Green Berets.
Russell fails to tell viewers the most obvious and important fact: the L.R.A. was a
product of a long-running internal fight between the Acholi people of
Northern Uganda and the Southerners led by a kleptomaniac dictator
named Yoweri Museveni, the fifth longest standing dictator in modern times,
who has been in power since 1986. (Maybe he'll get his own movie and Twitter campaign someday).
Instead, viewers are treated to Russell congratulating himself after the
U.S. Congress passed a law deeming Kony a terrorist after eight years of
trying. Not surprisingly, he chooses not to go back and examine the failures
by the same body that had ignored the issue for the last 26 years,
during which time the U.S. supported Museveni and his corrupt forces
while they continually wrecked havoc around Central Africa, giving rise
to the likes of Kony in the first place.
What's left? Just an endless parade of celebrities: Mark Zuckerberg,
Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rick Warren, Jay-Z, Rihanna, and George
Clooney, who at least has an understanding of Darfur if not Uganda, to
Bono and finally–wait for it–Justin Bieber. That's right–worry not, invisible
children of Africa–Justin Bieber hears your plea for help and has the tweets to prove it.
While any effort to draw attention to the terrible atrocities wreaked by
Kony and his cohorts, KONY 2012 only succeeds in presenting the story
in the most ignorant and meaningless possible way, reducing it to nothing but a string of vapid celebrity soundbites. If Russell was truly
interested in educating the public or helping to find a solution to the
mess, a good way to start would have been to make a film that actually
attempted to tell this tragic story.