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Kony 2012: Becoming Famous

Posted At: March 25, 2012 8:30 PM
by Ashley McDaniel

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines famous as an adjective meaning widely known. With this in mind, activist and filmmaker Jason Russell created the Kony 2012 video as a way to make Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) “famous,” and has been successful in doing so.

With more than 100 million views on YouTube, the 30-minute Kony 2012 video went viral less than two weeks ago and is already causing a huge uproar on various online platforms. Hundreds of Facebook and Twitter pages have been created, all devoted to one topic: stopping Joseph Kony.

The main purpose of this viral PR campaign is to inform millions about the horrible injustices perpetrated against humanity taking place in Africa and what we can do to help.

Such tactics as speaking out via YouTube channels, donating money and signing petitions have been quite effective in getting the word out. Russell’s video, starring his own son, struck mixed emotions for many people.

There has also been debate on the accuracy of Kony 2012. Some are upset at the lack of history the video provides and believe this has made the campaign more of a fad rather than a movement. In addition to this criticism, Russell has been pinpointed as a bully because he has targeted Joseph Kony, specifically, instead of focusing on the parent organization, Invisible Children, as a whole. Many are also concerned with how Invisible Children has spent its $9 million budget in 2011, devoting only 3 percent of it to fundraising. (

Not only has Joseph Kony become famous because of the Kony 2012 campaign but Russell as well. In the past week, a video of a naked Russell, ranting on the streets of California in the middle of ongoing traffic has also gone viral. This video has had more than one million views and been featured on numerous blogs, including TMZ. Statements have been released about the questionable mental state of Russell since these events. He has been seeking medical care and hopes to continue with the Kony 2012 campaign.

Kony 2012 has reached great heights through positive and negative publicity. Despite the controversy of Russell’s personal actions, the Kony 2012 campaign has benefited from the additional media coverage. With his alleged behavior, Kony 2012 had to turn from a focus on awareness to one of crisis management. The PR industry, ranging from professionals to students, can learn a great deal about the wide spectrum a campaign can take.

With the help of celebrities and Russell’s recent arrest, the Kony 2012 campaign has become the most viral video in history. Between Blu Ivy’s dad and Tim Tebow’s Christian army, a few of the known culturemakers involved, Russell’s video has succeeded in its main purpose of spreading awareness about Joseph Kony’s antics. So has Jason Russell made Joseph Kony famous? Or himself infamous?


  1. Post comment

    First off, I want to say that this article expresses how I feel about the Kony 2012 movement.
    When I originally saw it I almost cried. It’s sad to know that a person can be so pathetic and manipulate the mind of others and stand for such a sick, terrible cause. The sad thing is that there are similar events taking place in the United States. As soon as I saw the video I decided to support the cause, but I questioned myself about it because there are enough things taking place in my society that I can donate to. I felt really bad about the situation of the children so I decided to help anyways. Later, I started seeing all of the different blogs about it being a scam. Now I’m left questioning a lot of things. I’m really hoping that Russell wouldn’t pull a stunt like this to get famous. I’m also hoping he wouldn’t use viewers to get paid.


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