March 13, 2012
A week ago, the Kony 2012 video swept the internet and millions of people posted status updates, shared their views on the tragedy in Africa, and for a while, it seemed everyone was heartbroken over the rape, slaughter and inhumanity perpetrated by this man.
I didn’t buy it.
Not that I didn’t think this was all going on. Far from it. These kinds of war crimes have been going on for years, and we were lucky enough to host a former child soldier at TAMIU who shared his story with us. It’s heartbreaking, to be sure, but something about the Kony 2012 video didn’t smell right. Fighting a warlord by making him popular?
It’s like saying we can beat Al-Qaeda if more people knew about them.
It wasn’t long before others came out and put holes in the video and Invisible Children itself. In short, the organization has had some shady dealings and most of the money goes to the three founders, for travel, and filmmaking. The money that does go to Africa? The organization actually funds the Ugandan military which may or may not be guilty of the same crimes they’ve pinned on Kony.
The video is a 30-minute long commercial for a filmmaker. It’s a non-profit goal kind of how making Avatar was an effort to make the world environmentally conscious. Somewhere, James Cameron is wiping his butt with hundred dollar bills.
It’s not your fault if you didn’t know all this. It took a few days for the information to get out, but there’s a reason some of us waited before saying anything. Things have been bad in Africa for a long time. That’s no secret. It doesn’t get covered in the West as much as it should so when something like Kony 2012 comes along, it almost seems like there has been an explosion of violence where there was none before. We feel guilty for not having paid attention.
But that’s no reason to throw support at a campaign without really knowing what the campaign is about. In this country, we had millions line up to participate in the Tea Party without anyone really knowing until years later that the so-called grassroots movement was actually funded by the Koch Brothers, two men who have worked for decades to promote a highly conservative and fundamentalist agenda, work to dismantle unions, deny global climate change, and lobby for gas, oil, and chemical companies.
In both cases, the same thing happened: someone offered something positive and tugged at the heart. It appealed to emotion. Don’t get me wrong, though. I think we should do all we can to help Uganda. I think the Lord’s Resistance Army is one the great evils of our time.
My criticism lies solely on the people who sold the video to us as a way to help and what they do with the support they get. Our perception of what they wanted to do is great. Let’s stop suffering. What they actually do, though…
It’s using a tragedy to better their own business. Frankly, it’s sick.
For the sake of preventing something like this from happening later, let me lay out what I do with YOUR support, views, hits, and ads.
I pay the rent. I have internet. On the weekends, I buy a case of beer for our D&D games. I have a fiancé whom I wish to support. I have a few thousand dollars of debt for student loans and credit cards that need to get paid off. I’m trying to become a fully independent contractor by writing gaming manuals, novels, and selling artwork. In an ideal world, that would be my sole job. Any support I receive is to achieve that goal.
There’s my full disclosure.
And now, to clean up that much vileness, here’s the greatest Magic the Gathering freak-out ever. Folks, please remember it’s just a game.