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We discussed in class that the Kony campaign may have run out of steam. Here is a couple of reports from Australia which is as good a test market as anywhere with this issue.  Also 4:20 was probably not a motivating night for action.

It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, for sure it brought an awareness to the issue but not real action – a million hits on You Tube does not equal a hit on Joseph Kony. 

KONY 2012’s struggle to remain visible

Kony 2012

A supporter spreads the word ahead of last night’s Cover The Night event. Picture: Courtesy of Invisible Children

WHAT happened to Team Kony?

Last night was the night the Invisible Children planned to make their mark on the world by “covering the night” with the name of Joseph Kony. It’s difficult to cover the night when you can barely cover a council-approved wall.

KONY 2012 roared into the global consciousness last month, when three ambitious filmmakers launched an infectious 29-minute campaign to capture Uganda’s most notorious war criminal.

What followed was truly phenomenal; new and old media collided in a viral frenzy of social activism as the collective power of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube delivered the word ‘KONY’ into every household.

The campaign’s centrepiece was Cover the Night. It was last night. Gaggles of young activists, high on the empowerment of social justice and Red Bull, were destined take to the streets tonight and do their thing.

Not quite. My experience at Brisbane’s official Cover The Night event sadly failed to disprove the widespread cynicism: the campaign was a flop.

The film implored its followers to hang massive KONY banners from bridges, smother buildings and bus shelters with striking red posters, and create a general sense of havoc with their next-level enthusiasm and “change the world” swagger.

But in Brisbane Square, in front of a highly controlled gathering of little more than 50 people this highly anticipated “moment in history” amounted to little more than an awkward school dance.

Which isn’t to pass judgment on the campaign itself and its objectives, or to knock the highly enthusiastic and genuinely passionate young women who organised the event. Yet the writing had been clearly on the wall.

KONY 2012 suffered a huge setback on March 19, when filmmaker Jason Russell stripped to his birthday suit and ran through the streets in San Diego ranting about the devil.

A follow-up film, driven by Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey, sought to reignite a campaign that lost traction on social media within a week of KONY 2012’s release.

By now, the night should have well and truly been covered. Yet there is not a single mention of KONY, Cover The Night, or any other recognisable campaign term in Australia’s top Twitter trends.

And of the dozens of my Facebook friends who jumped on the Kony express last month, and most of whom live in Brisbane, I didn’t see a single one of them Covering The Night. In fact, I barely saw anyone over the age of 17.

Perhaps everyone just forgot. Perhaps they didn’t feel comfortable involving themselves in a campaign they didn’t fully understand.

The most likely conclusion is this: they’d moved on. Kony remains at large, still recruiting child soldiers into his murderous clan, but Invisible Children’s toughest challenge may just be trying to remain visible.

Catch Kony campaign loses couch potatoes

Nick Miller via

April 22, 2012

textHandful … a supporter in New York snaps the moment. Photo: Reuters

LINKING to a video on Facebook is one thing. Getting off the couch is quite another.

Viral internet sensation Kony 2012 found the campaign’s youthful army of ”clicktivists” largely unwilling to actually get up, go outside and put up posters.

Judging by the mood online, many had decided the whole meme was, like, so 10 minutes ago.

Participants in the campaign’s Cover the Night event on Friday were asked to form into teams, volunteer for their community for a few hours by picking up rubbish or washing cars, then spend the evening plastering walls, pavements and windows with promotional material.

But amazing things generally failed to happen. In New York, barely 5000 people had pledged on Facebook to join in. The event’s page didn’t specify a location, and Twitter revealed only a handful of groups heading to places such as Times Square, where a big video screen showed a Kony 2012 trailer every half hour just above a Foot Locker store.

Organisers also projected a Kony-themed video onto the side of a building in SoHo, which attracted mild interest from passers-by.

The Kony group Invisible Children itself discouraged big meet-ups, with a New York organiser on Twitter telling followers: “There is no official meet-up as we are asking people to act locally with friends+family in their neighbourhoods.”

There was a steady buzz of online chatter from those taking part and, as the evening wore on, scattered stencils and posters popped up around the city, but the night remained far from covered.

Even the mass of wits who rushed to Twitter to declare the movement dead failed to help it crack the list of top 10 Twitter trends.

“I supposed to go to a kony 2012 stuff today … so lazy … ,” New York fashion blogger Joan Jenner tweeted. “So now that Kony isn’t trending anymore is anyone still going to the own the night thing?” New York graphic designer @Chuckworks asked.

One problem might have been that the huge early success of the Kony 2012 campaign had set impossibly high expectations.

Another problem might have been that ”4/20” is a date chosen by US marijuana smokers to celebrate pot culture. By the evening, Twitter conversations in New York were still firmly focused on pot, the Yankees v Red Sox, pot, the NBA playoffs and ongoing discussion of the Tupac Shakur hologram at the Coachella music festival. And pot.

Things were no better in Sydney, where just a few handful of people turned up to support a campaign to cover Sydney streets in Kony posters. Almost 19,000 people indicated via Facebook they would attend the event in Sydney but only about 25 were seen in Martin Place on Friday night.

It was a big reality check for a phenomenon that barely a month ago had been all over the internet.

In early March, Invisible Children put a 29-minute documentary on YouTube about the plight of child soldiers in Uganda, calling for action against warlord Joseph Kony.

The group hoped for half a million views for the video. It managed almost 200 times that number in the first week alone, and switched-on under-25s deluged newsrooms and politicians with calls for action.

Higher-profile charities marvelled at the success and wondered how to replicate it. George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama and Angelina Jolie voiced their support.

But within days a big backlash questioned the outdated facts, credentials and finances of Invisible Children. Then the star of the film, charity co-founder and Christian evangelist Jason Russell, was hospitalised for “exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition” after being detained by San Diego police during a public breakdown in the street.

In a final ignominy, the whole event was satirised in a South Parkepisode last week.

It was the death knell for Kony 2012’s hipster credibility, leaving only the idealistic teenage core still excited for the poster campaign.


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