Violence and Victimhood: The Language and Image of Kony 2012
MetadataShow full item record
Early in March 2012, the world was briefly obsessed with Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. The reason behind this was the short video Kony 2012, created by the NGO Invisible Children. In garnering 73 million viewers on YouTube within a week, it became a world record for viral video. Because of its massive reach, however, Kony 2012 was also subjected to criticism by academics. They claimed the film oversimplified the conflict in Uganda and pointed out that the film overlooks the fact that the LRA was driven out of Uganda years ago. Others praised the power of social media and its reach. This paper will argue that the essence of the video’s impact lies in its content, rather than strategic use of social media. A discursive case study of the content of Kony 2012 will focus on word and image. This will examine the social processes which the video applies to mobilize its audience, form social boundaries and legitimize violent action, in this case military intervention by the Ugandan army supported by United States army experts. It will be argued that mobilization efforts such as Kony 2012 serve complex and dynamic social processes in that they actively and deliberately form social dichotomies based on in-group inclusion and outside hostility. It is therefore important to conduct further in-depth research to understand these underlying dynamics.