Kony 2: Sequel to video that went viral receives its online premiere
It was one of the most successful viral campaign videos ever, supported by A-list celebrities and drawing praise for making the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), globally notorious.
But while the film had 100 million viewings online, Invisible Children, the US advocacy organisation which made it, faced criticism for oversimplifying the issue and glorifying its own work.
Now, to answer its critics, the group has made a sequel. "This generation has responded to the call to make Joseph Kony famous," Invisible Children said. "Part II gives a closer look at the LRA, the international efforts to stop them, the progress that has already been made and what we can all do to help."
Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous begins with a montage of the various critical reactions to the first film. It has the same slick editing and personal narrative as the original but features fewer white faces and a more in-depth analysis of the LRA. Noticeably absent is the group's founder, Jason Russell, who suffered a public meltdown in March that doctors described as a brief psychotic episode. "We want people to dig deeper into this conflict and actively engage in the solutions," said Ben Keesey, the chief executive.
The extraordinary reach of the film was underlined yesterday as a document appeared online claiming to be a response to Kony 2012 by the LRA themselves. A long, rambling polemic, it denounces Invisible Children as a front for the US military's Africa Command and goes on to name-check everyone from the former US Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara, to Jesus Christ.
"The military campaign to 'kill and then capture' Joseph Kony... is a cheap and banal panic act of mass trickery to make the unsuspecting peoples of the world complicit in the US rogue and murderous activities in Central Africa," the document asserts. It accuses the US of seeking control of African resources and blames Washington for the breakdown of peace efforts with the LRA,
The quasi-religious cult was born out of a rebellion in northern Uganda and now ranges across several countries. Thousands of children have been kidnapped, girls forced to become sex slaves and boys to fight as child soldiers, while 500,000 people have been displaced.
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