I’m sure by now several (if not all) of you are getting sick of hearing about the famous (infamous?) Kony 2012 campaign. Whether you sobbed throughout the thirty minute viral video and immediately bought ten bracelets, or you are one who (justly) critiqued the organization who produced it for their questionable charitable funding policy, it may seem as though this is all old news. As with most YouTube uploads that go viral, people lose interest in about a week.
But then the “Kony 2012” director and co-founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, was detained in San Diego this past weekend.
According to the San Diego Police Department, Russell was detained for public intoxication, masturbating in public, and vehicular vandalism. He was not arrested because of the bizarre statements he started spouting off when officers approached him, and was instead taken to a medical facility for more attention.
The CEO of Invisible Children released a statement saying that Russell was suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition as a result of the recent “strenuous PR campaign.” Russell’s wife claims that he has taken many of the critiques and negative comments against the film personally.
In his defense, when a showing of “Kony 2012” in the northern Uganda town of Lira resulted in residents throwing rocks at the screen and further screenings being suspended, I’m not surprised Russell has been taking things personally. He should.
One Ugandan women likened the film and it’s call to buy Invisible Children “swag” to selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia after 9/11. Now I’m sure most of you are thinking WHOA, that is totally different! But is it? Isn’t proudly sporting the name of an evil terrorist in the hopes of making him “infamous” the same in any country, in any situation? It doesn’t matter if he blew up the Twin Towers or mangled innocent children’s fingers…it’s still equally as offensive to the country who is suffering from the aftermaths of tragedy.
But for all my personal criticisms of the film and the organization that produced it, watching the video of Jason Russell swinging his dick around in front of traffic just made me, well, sad. Truly. There was no humanity in what he was doing. The animalistic screeches and bestial movements were anything but human. Someone tweeted a statement along the lines of questioning how Russell was going to explain this to his three year old, a sarcastic comment on the “Kony 2012” video’s format. I just hope it never comes to that point where he does have to explain this episode to his young children.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this whole situation revolving around the Kony movement has, in some sense, no sense of true, unadulterated humanity. I know several of you will disagree with me, reminding me of the outpouring of international support from those who have watched the video on YouTube, of all of the donations that have been made within the past month to charitable organizations. But if anything, I think that this has made the general public lose some faith in charities.
And where is the humanity in making a film about the LRA and Uganda without even considering the people who live in the country and experience this kind of terror every day? When a movie that was supposed to help them, that they were genuinely excited about seeing, resulted in anger, bitterness, and a stoning of the movie theater, the organization who made the film should know that they did something wrong.
And lastly, Russell’s fit of…well, whatever it was. Watching someone snap like that, no matter one’s own likes of dislikes of the person, is no pleasurable activity. It is not appropriate to celebrate someone losing their humanity, especially when it happens in the public eye. He didn’t “get what he deserved.” As a child who attempts to help their mother with laundry and ends up flooding the basement, Russell probably had good intentions. He just didn’t know how to go about it.
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway. I must, if I want to retain any faith in our supposed empathetic culture.