Kony 2012 in Athens

    A 29 minute video called Kony 2012 went viral the first week in March. Social media and news organizations in Athens and around the world buzzed about the video created by Ben Keesey, the executive chief officer of Invisible Children.
    The video called for volunteers to make the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, as famous as celebrities such as George Clooney in an attempt to have the war criminal captured, according to the Invisible Children website.
    Anna Jolley, co-president of the University of Georgia chapter of Invisible Children, was not as pleased with Kony 2012 because she reluctantly admitted she did not personally agree with the cause. “The goal of the video was to inform people. It was a great viral campaign, but I don’t think it did a good job at explaining the situation.”
    The video directed volunteers to the Invisible Children website to purchase posters, yard signs, and stickers that advertise the Kony 2012 brand. The goal of the campaign, according to Keesey and the organization website, is to display memorabilia in communities in a nationwide event on April 20th called Cover the Night. The event is meant to bring attention to the cause in order to draw the attention of political leaders who could make a difference in the world.
    “Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity,” says the organization website.
    Volunteers in Athens were interested in the campaign after the video went viral, according to Jolley.
    “I was getting about 20-25 emails and Facebook messages a day about Kony 2012,” said Jolley. “There was a large interest of people. It was a little overwhelming.”
    Multiple Facebook groups dedicated to Cover the Night in Athens have surfaced as a result of the video although these groups are not associated with the University Invisible Children organization, according to Jolley. These groups are created by volunteers who want to raise awareness by covering downtown Athens with posters of Kony, according to the event descriptions on the social media site.     
    Groups of five “roadies” are traveling across the United States assisting volunteers with their role in the movement. The roadies will give a presentation in Athens on April 17th, according to roadie and University of Georgia alum, Danielle Discepoli.
    “The roadies will be doing a 50 minute presentation at Memorial Hall. Basically the presentation starts with a short intro by one roadie, and they will show the film KONY 2012,” explained Discepoli. “After that their Ugandan teammate, Santo, will share a little bit of his story of growing up and living during the conflict in Northern Uganda. After that there will be time for questions, and they will conclude. There will be a merchandise and information table set up for people to buy Action Kits, tshirts, bracelets, etc.”
     Jolley does not agree with the idea of Cover the Night worrying it could lead to vandalism in Athens. “Cover the Night is a waste of time and money. The policy makers already know about Kony. They have not been ignoring the issue. Cover the Night is also a waste of money that could go to the field. I wish the organization would use the time and effort to effect change.”
    Other University students also found fault with the campaign. “I agree that Kony is a bad man,” said sophomore Lacey Kincheloe. “I just don’t agree with Invisible Children. Not all of their money goes towards the kids. I would rather give my money to help the kids than give money to make a video or sponsor the roadies.”
    Jolley discussed the goals and upcoming events of Invisible Children at the University in a meeting on Monday. The main goal of the organization is to continue informing the masses about Kony through video screenings and preparation for the events in April including the visit from the roadies and a bake sale to raise money for the cause.
    More informative videos were also shown at the meeting to show the progress of the campaign. A short video released this week announced that the campaign has been the driving force between two resolutions in the House and Sentate. A sequal to the Kony 2012 video was also announced in the video.
    The meeting also discussed  the response Invisible Children has issued on their website to the recent criticism. The rebuttal includes information about the organization’s finances, responses to questions raised by the video, and more information about the goals of the campaign.
    Jolley encouraged anyone with questions about Invisible Children and what the organization does at the University to contact her. “I know there has been a lot of negative publicity in the news lately, and it can be hard to talk to people about the cause when all they have been exposed to is the bad stuff.” 

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