Cynicism killed Kony. The campaign, that is
When Kony 2012 was the topic of the week in March, one of The Punch Team said something cynical about the campaign at a party. Yeah, nice sentiment. Unlikely to spur an arrest in the African wilderness in the next week, though.
Silence descended across the conversation. “Oh yeah. Well… I bought the action pack.” (Jerk.)
That Puncher wasn’t alone in their cyncism. Plenty of commentators carped that the campaign to bring African warlord Joseph Kony to justice within the year wouldn’t achieve results. But if there was one thing that drew out the critics of the campaign (other than the campaign’s chief running around San Francisco naked) - it was the ginormous merchandise-a-thon that accompanied it.
“Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something,” the organisation’s website described purchasing an action pack. “Wage war against apathy with posters, stickers, facts, and your KONY 2012 t-shirt. We are brave, we are steadfast, and we will show our leaders that we care enough to take a stand.
“Wash with boldness. Rinse. Repeat.”
By the sounds of it, you could fight the war against Kony by lathering your Kony 2012 T-shirt in Napisan and BOLDNESS. We just needed to drench ourselves in the healing detergent of hope. Bam! And the dirt of apathy would be gone.
The campaign was built on a dazzling marketing campaign and washed-up metaphors. But it wasn’t built on a specific action. It’s easy to make someone famous; harder to get them prosecuted in The Hague. Publicity alone didn’t catch Osama Bin Laden, a years-long intelligence operation did.
Today, social media posts on Kony forums consist of the following: “BIGGEST SCAM EVER”; “you guys didn’t do anything. you guys are the criminals. you stole our money”; “Kony’s so April”; “Whenever you think you’re a failure, just remember the [director] of Kony 2012 got arrested before Kony did.”
Looks like the cynics won. Kony’s still on the run, albeit in other areas of Africa than he was previously. If you were going to start a campaign against an African warlord, what would you do differently?
If you’re still a committed Kony activist, we’d like to have a chat. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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