I have yet to see KONY 2012. So I cannot yet comment on the veracity or quality of the film itself. However, I can certainly say, especially after reading today’s article in the New York Times “Online, a Distant Conflict Soars to No. 1“, that Jason Russell and his team’s viral campaign take social media marketing and social issue films to another level. This is excellent news for documentary filmmakers. This is, in fact, a source of hope. Firstly, the Invisible Children team were wise and wily–they tapped into the community most likely to relate to the film’s subject and go wild with it: the highly wired youth between the ages of 12 – 25.
My daughter was one of them. She posted the information and the video to her Facebook page, she added me and other family members and friends to it, and she’s commented on the subject matter, bringing it to the attention of all of her and my hundreds of friends, who in turn… Well, you get the picture. This event is what those of us who rack our brains every day for our own projects and our clients’ films would wish to occur all the time– that we can connect so immediately with our community and then they do all the rest of the work for us, taking the project around the world and back and, more importantly, bringing it to the attention of those who can use it. Invisible Children knows outreach–get people to see the film and give those indignant, caring people something to do right away to put their good feelings to action 1) Sign the pledge 2) get the KONY 2012 bracelet and action kit and 3) sign up and donate. The controversy now, apparently, is whether or not IC is actually putting the money to work to help the Ugandan children and their families. I certainly hope there is plenty of transparency here. Sure, analysts and critics will find holes in the campaign, and blurry areas to be concerned about. Nevertheless, let’s face it–would any of us paid attention or even known about this issue if not for CI “distilling a very complicated 26-year war into something that’s consumable and understandable by mass media” ? What conflict isn’t complicated? Get the word out, get people involved. Now, we can all hash it out and understand it.