Makers of the most viral video in Internet history, Kony 2012, launched their next phase to bring down child soldier Kingpin, Joseph Kony: release a new video, explain their co-founder’s infamous naked meltdown, and plan a massive protest in DC. “I was not in control of my mind or my body,” Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell, said on the TODAY show, explaining the public breakdown he had after mounting criticism of the wildly successful video, which accumulated over 100 million views in just six days. Invisible Children seem to have recovered from the overwhelming episode, releasing a 30 minute video explanation (posted at the end of the post, a shorter call to action (below this paragraph), revamped their website, and are planning a march on the White House on November 17th.
Invisible Children were well-known documentarians within social justice circles long before their viral hit. Dedicated to galvanizing global political and military resources to stop the Central African paramilitary group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, from forcibly recruiting child soldiers, Invisible Children successfully lobbied congress to authorize military action in 2009 (after students staged a protest outside U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s freezing Oklahoma City office). However, The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act only authorized support for local military groups, not preemptive assaults.
Frustrated with progress, the group then released the now famous Kony 2012, which got picked up by everyone from Justin Bieber to Oprah
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) March 8, 2012
The accompanying media frenzy brought with it accusations of libel and oversimplification, most notably that Kony was an infamous war criminal and advocating military intervention required a nuanced approach to international efforts that had been ongoing for many years.
The overwhelming response took a psychological toll on Russell, ultimately resulting in a naked public breakdown, publicized in the proudly salacious, paparazzi-loving outlet, TMZ.
After Russell, 33, spent 6 weeks in care facilities, has now recovered and is promoting his new video and call to march in Washington, DC. “Move DC” plans to line the 10 city blocks surrounding the white house with young supporters to urge even more action against the LRA. Interestingly enough, the group has also chosen Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker’s new social media service, #waywire, as the conversational hub of the new video, rather than YouTube, where comments are disabled.
Invisible Children, for all their criticisms, have been one of the few unqualified success stories in social media, a world where moving young citizens to offline action has proven elusive more often than not. Move DC will be worth keeping an eye on, and if lightning strikes twice for the group on November 17th, they will surely be sought-after experts in the Holy Grail of Internet activism: real world action.