“The Tsunami” of the Kony 2012 Campaign

In early March 2012, San Diego human rights group Invisible Children released Kony 2012,  a short 30-minute video about child soldiers led by Joseph Kony in Uganda, Africa. The video went viral almost instantly for its campaign and sent social media ablaze.

  • Kony 2012- The documentary features Invisible Children’s efforts to stop Joseph Kony. The documentary features a look into Kony’s child soldier regime and all the areas in which he is active. The documentary calls for action and for help against his tyranny.
  • Cover the Night- The activism part of the event. Video watchers were asked to put up posters around their town. The event, like the video, reached millions on the social networks but came up short when it was time for real activism.
  • Clicktivism- Supporting political or social issues via the internet, whether it be sharing or signing a petition. It usually involves little actual effort.  Because of this, at the time, Kony became more of the most viral videos ever, having 100 million viewers in 2012 alone. Much of the debate following the video surrounded the clicktivism of the video, and the act of sharing and not really doing much after.
  • Jason Russell- The Invisible Children founders and leader at the time of the video. He narrates the documentary and does it as if he is talking to his young son Jacob.  Because of the criticism and public scrutiny following the video, Russel had a mental breakdown — which damaged the brand as well. A video was filmed of his breakdown and was released online (63)
  • “We were naive. We were stupid, we thought we could end a war.” Jason Russell states while reflecting on IC’s early days and Kony 2012.
  • The whole situation with Kony 2012 has been regarded as an instance of “White Man’s Burden”. Why do you think that is?
  • This meme is clearly poking fun at clicktivism faux activism. It is stating simply that people think that just by sharing something, they have immediately fixed the issue. Many people had no idea about Kony and the Ugandan crisis before the video, and many probably haven’t kept up since.


  • Some of the memes took a racist approach, like the one seen above. This showed how little the world was really taking the video seriously and how they still found time to be racist and not see the bigger picture. Of the different racial targeted memes to come out of Kony 2012, this is one of the least offensive.

(OWN/First Look: Jason Russell on Kony 2012 Going Viral/ Oct.4th,2012/ Youtube)

This video features director and leader of IC, Jason Russell, talking to Oprah about the magnitude of the film’s success. He describes the public’s reaction as a “tsunami to his riding the wave surfboard” as the general public quickly torn the event apart and poked holes, which later resulted in Russell’s nervous breakdown. This interview was taped months after his public meltdown.

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