invisible children

Beyond 'Kony 2012': Jason Russell’s Attempt at a Comeback

Jason Russell with Ugandan children in the film “Invisible Children.” RNS photo courtesy of Invisible Children.

A campaign to arrest an African warlord generated awareness in more ways than the effort’s co-founder Jason Russell could have ever imagined.

The “Kony 2012″ campaign captured widespread attention for its push to arrest Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which abducts and forces children to become soldiers. For a grass-roots video project that suddenly went viral, it was a phenomenal success.

Two weeks after the group Invisible Children released the video last year, Russell, the group’s co-founder, was detained and hospitalized for erratic behavior after he was found running naked and cursing the devil in the streets of San Diego.

'Kony 2012' Creator Detained in California

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Jason Russell appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Jason Russell, the man behind the viral "Kony 2012" video and co-founder of Invisible Children, was detained by police in San Diego on Thursday after a man was reported being possibly drunk, vandalizing cars and masturbating in public, according to NBC San Diego.

Invisible Children's CEO Ben Keesey released a statement on Friday saying:

“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”

Invisible Children: Using Film and Social Media to Advance Global Justice Advocacy

Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/via Getty Images.

"KONY 2012" filmmaker Jason Russell in an appearance on the "Today Show" March 9. Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/via Getty Images.

After returning to the U.S., they produced a film titled Invisible Children and then set up a non-profit organization by the same name as the vehicle through which they could use the film to raise awareness of the child soldiers.

I believe that the centrality of film and social media to Invisible Children’s organizing strategy places it at the forefront of new innovative forms of global activism that have to capacity to create a degree of intimacy between people living on opposite sides of the globe that could not have been possible in the past. Social media as an organizing tool also opens up the possibility of creating extensive webs of interactions between activists across the globe. It allows story-telling to be a global enterprise.

 The use of social media also has the power to unleash much greater local initiative and innovation by enabling direct communication between activists in different geographic locations across the global, without information first needing to flow up through traditional hierarchical organizational structures to a national staff that perhaps sends it back down again to activists in other local areas. 

Bono Chimes in on 'Kony 2012'

Bono in London,  Oct. 25 2012. (Photo by Niki Nikolova/FilmMagic)

Bono in London, Oct. 25 2012. (Photo by Niki Nikolova/FilmMagic)

Amidst controversy over the viral 'Kony 2012' video produced by Invisible Children, Bono lent his words of support in Ireland's Sunday Times edition. Below are his comments:

“Having just been in Gulu with Edun and Jolly, this is particularly pertinent for me … Spreading like wildfire, and sparking a heated, fascinating, much needed debate, this is brilliant campaigning. Not only does the public now know about Kony and his most despicable atrocities, they also know what a huge range of experts think about it, even if they all don’t agree. I salute a strategy that generates this much interest if it¹s targeted towards lasting meaningful solutions owned and directed by the people of the region on their journey from the trauma of these atrocities towards stability and development. Is there an Oscar for this kind of direction? Jason Russell deserves it.”

KONY 2012: Who's Telling the Story?

Joseph Kony. Photo by Adam Pletts/Getty Images.

Joseph Kony, head of the Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, in a rare public appearance, 2006. Photo by Adam Pletts/Getty Images.

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

So begins the Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video that recently went viral. And yet, I would perhaps change this opening quote to say something like, “Nothing is more powerful than the stories by which we construct our identities,” because these stories determine who you believe you are and how you believe you can engage in the world and with others.

Powerful. Potentially dangerous. Always in some way failing in it’s accuracy and exclusive to someone else. Even with our best intentions.

Invisible Children Short Film 'Kony 2012' Aims at Worldwide Awareness

Joseph Kony, Kony 2012, Invisible Children

Joseph Kony, Kony 2012, Invisible Children

Invisible Children released a short film Wednesday with the aim to make Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, famous--not for acclaim, but to bring awareness to his alleged crimes in abducting children and forcing them to be child soldiers.

According to the YouTube video, "KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice."

"It's obvious that Kony should be stopped. The problem is that 99 percent of the planet doesn't know who he is. If they knew, Kony would have been stopped long ago," the half-hour film narrates.