Media questions society's "feel good" activism

As major broadcasting networks escalated the issue to a new high, the KONY 2012 campaign became one of the most talked about topics across every media form; from radio, newspaper, broadcasting news to cyberspace and into everyday conversation.

Andrew Bolt’s opinion article from The Daily Telegraph titled “Click go the tears for a warlord’s victims” (12.3.12, pg 13) offered a new form of criticism whilst the currency of the issue was as strong as ever. Through a sarcastic manner Bolt questions how exactly the 30 minute film, with it’s emotional appeal, is supposed to stop Joseph Kony and whether Russell has over simplified a complex political and military matter.

Bolt starts the article with a few strong points to set the tone in satirical manner:

“In a jungle in Africa, a mass-murderer called Kony is shattered. A few million people on Facebook have unfriended him”

“How intoxicating for virtual friends everywhere. One click and Kony’s gone. They don’t even have to leave the house.” 

It can be argued Jason Russell’s video has constructed one version of a ‘reality’ through the selection and interpretation of what went into it, but media has reproduced the reality with new perspectives due to articles like this one. Viewers were able to become a more informed audience and as the issue was played out by media and communications, different interpretations arose.

Contrary to the impression the film gives and like many other articles have pointed out, the video has a reputation for misleading facts:

 “Kony was chased out of Uganda six years ago, probably to the Central African Republic, and is done to a few hundred fighters. Most of the 30, 000 children actually taken over nearly 30 years are no longer with him.”

 Although such a criticism is valid, the purpose of the film was to ‘make Kony famous’ in order to bring justice to the acts committed 30 years ago, to ensure Kony could not get away for the things he did to children like Russell’s friend Jacob. Kony is a name known worldwide, so it could be suggested the video did just that.

 Bolt linked the nature of campaign to examples of ‘real’ charity:

 “In Rwanda, barely weeks after the genocide I saw what real charity looked like. I met a Lithuanian priest.. half mad with grief and fury, after his Salesian orphanage was destroyed by the men who came to kill his children.. he swore he would rebuild… by God he done it. Years of his life, it had taken.”

 Bolt used this personal anecdote to get his opinion across, to give rise to new ideas within the national conversation, to offer a starting point for discussion within the public sphere.

 Bolt ends on a climatic strength relating the reality of the Kony campaign to circumstances that can be easily related to by the general public. He aims to justify his point and perhaps change some perspectives towards his reality of today’s society that seeming good today often beats doing it.

 The representation of the campaign within various opinion articles has certainly affected the way the issue was being presented. People have become less concerned with what Kony has done to the role of social media to, with respect to this article, the nature of society participating in ‘feel good’ charity campaigns.

 “We have millions switching off lights for one hour, thinking they’re saving the planet. We have 250,000 people walk over a bridge, thinking they’ve helped Aborigines.

And we now have Facebookers unfriending Kony, thinking they’ve put a killer in his box.”

Joseph Kony
image: The Daily Telegraph

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