Posts tagged Jason Russell

Where are the “Invisible Children” now? (Part II)

The following is a continuation of what Riho wrote for her last assignment in my Composition I class.  She worked very hard to find the right information.  I was very proud of her because she is from Japan and the only one on our campus, she is outnumbered by the large group of Koreans and Chinese.  Yes, she is Asian but she is invisible in her nationality amongst them. I’m not sure why she gravitated to this topic about “Invisible Children” but maybe she could relate in a small way to not being recognized as the lone Japanese girl on our campus.

 “A new video which was created by Invisible Children came out on March 5th in 2012. The film is called Kony 2012 and explains about Kony’s and LRA’s crimes toward children in conflicts by Jason Russell and calls for saving the children in conflicts. The film made a huge impact to the society. In the video, Jason tells his young son who Kony is by using simple words. Even though his story is not complicated and easy as much as a five year old boy can understand, it tells us the atrocity of child soldiers in 30 minutes. I could feel Jason’s seriousness of this issue by seeing Jason telling his child the reality. Jason’s major purpose for the video was to make many people recognize Kony’s face, and now many people who watched Kony 2012 can recognize his face and know the bad things he is doing. The video was seen by many people immediately after it was launched. “By the end of the first week, more than 112 million people had seen Kony 2012-about the same number who watch the Super Bowl every year” (Suddath, 2012). Many people who felt sad and sorry for the children, started a movement against LRA, and gave donations to Invisible Children in order to help the kids. Many celebrities also shared the facts by using the social network service to get the public’s attentions toward the poor kids. Invisible Children states Kony was the number nine most searched person on Google in 2012. Thus, the video moved the viewers.

However, the stories which are explained in Kony 2012 are lacking in creditability. “The video is charged with making mistakes and oversimplifying a complicated issue” (Hughes, 2012). In the video Jason explains Kony is in Uganda and has more than 30,000 child soldiers who were abducted. However, Kony has not been seen for more than six years, so no one knows if he is still in Uganda. In addition, the number of children Joseph showed is exaggerated. That is because 30,000 is the number estimated for the total of killed children because of the conflicts lasted over 20 years in the country. It cannot be the truth that LRA are having the number of children. Thus, some of the information is old, not true, or exaggerated, but they told us as if these are true and really happening. Then, a lot of people trusted the stories without any doubt. According to Alex Miller, Invisible Children got more than 10 million dollars of contributions by the video. Pickett (2012) explained that even though “Invisible Children” took near 14 million dollars in 2011, only 3.3 million dollars actually went to programs in Central Africa. They used the rest of the money for marketing, management, expenses, and products. Therefore, most of the money people donated to help after watching Kony 2012 might not be used for the children but for the organization. They took a lot of money from people who were trying to help children in conflicts by showing the video of children suffering. The act must not be forgiven.  In addition, 10 days after the video was released, Jason was reported with his strange behavior. He ran out naked into the street and screamed. He changed to a crazy person from the leader of saving child soldiers, so now it is difficult to trust him and the organization led by him. Thus, people should not have trusted them easily until they got enough information and creditability to decide to help the group.

On the other hand, “Invisible Children” still call for the support and donation even after these facts came up. The purposes for their activities are still to help children who are involved in conflicts in Africa, to end the actions of LRA, and to arrest Joseph Kony. They say they will not stop the movement until they move Joseph Kony out of the way. According to “Invisible Children” website, Congress passed a bill with 45 million dollars to help arrest Kony. Obama signed the budget legislation to support efforts to locate and arrest top LRA leaders. LRA killings had decreased 67 percent in the last year, and two of five top LRA commanders are off the battle fields because of their activities. By showing these facts they are trying to prove Invisible Children is motivated to make a peaceful world, and their campaign actually moved the President of the United States. In addition, even though the amount is smaller than we expect, some of the donations are actually used to help the African children. The organization Invisible Children are trying to justify their actions for child soldiers even though their creditability is suspected because of the earlier lies they made. Thus, they are suspected of manipulating the power of media and still getting support from some gullible people.

We get a lot of information from the media every day from TV, newspapers, Internet, and magazines. Even our friends and families tell us a lot of information which they get from the media. Therefore, it is almost impossible not to get information from the media. According to my survey, 66.7 percent of people admitted that they have experienced being fooled by the media, but still 41.7 percent of people sometimes and 33.3 percent of people almost always believe the information which is told by the media. The data shows media has a big influence. In conclusion, even though Invisible Children succeeded to move a lot of sympathetic people and the President of this country, the fact that they fooled the receivers of their information cannot be changed. They defrauded sympathetic people of donations for their benefit and lost their trust. The inappropriate action should not be acclaimed even though it made a huge progress for helping child soldiers. People who use media can get not only a lot of money but also a lot of people’s sympathy even by telling untruth. The media could be very useful to share the true story, to tell information to many people, and to call for activities, but the media could be very dangerous because it spreads anything to the whole world quickly. We could make huge changes to the society by our movement, so we should have responsibility to check the facts. In order to avoid letting this bias happen again, the media should build accountability for their information, and receivers should pay more attention to the creditability of the information which they are told.


Cadwalladr, C. (2013, March) Jason Russell: Kony2012 and the fight for truth. Retrieved from the Guardian website:

Hughes, L. (2012). Invisible Children and the Hypocrisy of the Media. Canadian Dimension, 46(3), 56. Retrieved from EBSCO

Invisible Children. (n.d.). Programs. Retrieved April 17, 2013 from:

Pickett, I. (2012, March 9). Is Invisible Children And Kony 2012 Using Children To Rip You Off?. Retrieved from CBS website:

Russell, J. (2012, March 5). Kony 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Russell, J. , Bailey, Bobby & Poole, Laren (August 26, 2006). Invisible Children: Rough Cut [Video firm]. Retrieved from

Suddath, C. (2012). Guerrilla Marketing. Bloomberg Businessweek, (4294), 68-72. Retrieved from EBSCO

Swartz, L. (2012). Invisible Children: Transmedia, Storytelling, Mobilization. Working Paper, March 11. Retrieved from Google Scholar

UNICEF. (n.d.). The facts. Retrieved from Factsheet: Child Soldiers website:

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“Tell a Story” says Jason Russell

Ironic that I wrote about co-founder Jason Russell of “Invisible Children” in my last post. Then as soon as I hit “publish” on my blog, I found out Russell was arrested yesterday in California for erratic behavior and indecent exposure.  I’m certain Jason didn’t want to give this kind of exposure to his operation of Kony2012. This will most certainly backfire on all their plans leading up to April 20th. I suppose the story that Jason Russell really wants to tell is about Jacob when Russell went to Africa eight years ago.  Young Jacob was able to escape the clutches of Joseph Kony who has destroyed many, many lives. That’s a very sad story.

Here’s a new story just hot off the press.  I feel sorry for Jason Russell who presumably is married with two children. He has a wife he has known for 23 years, he is 33 years old, so married to a childhood sweetheart.  That’s what I have gathered about him from different news sources. Supposedly he is a Christian, family man who cares deeply about families who have been destroyed in Africa, mainly Sudan and Uganda and anywhere else the Lord’s Resistance Army has infiltrated.

I just finished watching a clip with Mark Wexler (co-founder of Not For Sale) and Jason Russell telling an audience about how to use social media to give any abolitionist activist more impact. Anyone who has a passion to tell their story concerning human trafficking, there are astute ways to get the message across.  Apparently with the video clip of Kony2012 gone viral as of a week ago, it just so happened to take Jason out of commission.  Hopefully this is a temporary setback, I do wish him well for the sake of his cause and his family.

I’ll philosophize a bit here. Maybe we as finite creatures are incapable of using all the social media at our fingertips such as Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc.  Seems that Jason was on technology overload at the expense of his spiritual, biological and emotional health. Getting his Kony2012 film clip out for the world to see may have been his on doing while there are so many other atrocities going on in the world.  He admitted on the Not For Sale website that telling a simple story can be difficult.  He claimed you have to create forward momentum to keep it going.  Maybe Jason and his team of Invisible Children are doing too much, too soon, too fast.

Around an election year is also a critical time to be campaigning for a good cause, but aren’t Americans all tired of the hype built around candidates’ bumper stickers, campaign posters and conventions? Enough already of the hype! I still don’t understand the “Invisible Children’s” logic of “making Joseph Kony famous.” No, let’s make Kony as well known as Hitler as a wild-eyed despotic tyrant who killed many people. I have to add, as I wrote yesterday, let’s make Kony as infamous as Jospeh Stalin should be known as. Too many tragic stories in the former Soviet Union have remained untold.

Telling a story is what Kazakh people are adept at.  If only I understood the Kazakh language to hear what stories they tell their younger generations about the exploits and glories of the good old days when the Kazakh nomads roamed their steppes in freedom.  The independent Kazakh of hundreds of years ago knew how to live off the land. They also knew how to fight bravely while being hospitable to the hapless stranger who wandered on to their far off, desolate lands. I’m told the Kazakhs have an oral tradition where they really know how to tell a story. No one needs to tell them to “tell a story.”

Funny that we are advised by Jason Russell that we must know how to tell a story orally. In our western land of written literature, we need to learn how to be good story tellers. I have said many times, that each life lived out on earth has a compelling story.  Each individual soul matters. I wonder what is Jason Russell’s story that brought him to this point of exhaustion and dehydration where he is being hospitalized right now for the overwork he has committed himself to with Kony2012.  No doubt he cares for the children who have remained invisible in Africa, he has his own children he loves and cares for.

What will become of all the donation money that has come in to Kony2012 thus far to help tell the story? Will this latest drama with Jason Russell propel the momentum forward?  I wonder…stay tuned!

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“Invisible Children” Gone Viral, Who to Believe?

The Internet has been deluged about “Invisible Children” and most recently the “Kony2012” video. According to a Wall Street Journal article on March 9th, last Thursday this latest YouTube clip had 44.7 million views and over 170 related clips.  Twitter users mentioned Joseph Kony almost one million times. What and WHO are we REALLY to believe? Of course, there are many perspectives about this awful topic of child soldiers in Africa. However, I think it is very important we have a measured response and listen to those people who live in the areas of Uganda and elsewhere in Africa where Kony and his troops of the “Lord’s Resistance Army” have infiltrated.

I am no expert on any of this, it is so far removed from the clean and Spartan classrooms that I have taught in while living in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.  Jungles and military are about as far away from what I experience on an every day basis while back in Minnesota now.  Difficult to believe I’ve been home experiencing a whole year back in my home state of Minnesota since my return from Astana, Kazakhstan.  What can I do about what is happening when young children are yanked from their homes and forced by fear and intimidation to become child soldiers?

Just the other day I met a young woman in my hometown who had a pierced lip and dark makeup with her bright orange hair that was dyed unnaturally under a black stocking hat to suit her horrendous, gothic appearance. She would be a charming enough looking girl if she went natural, she seemed articulate enough.  She too had seen the Kony2012 youtube flick which has been put out by the Invisible Children guys out of California.  They are calling for military action against Kony, the infamous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This young gothic girl was ready to put posters up all over town to bring awareness to this situation, I know she doesn’t have the money to donate to the “cause.”

What I did NOT appreciate what the Invisible Children producers did, when I watched this one hour documentary, was to confuse the issue about WHO the good and bad guys are.  If I’m not mistaken, they wanted to make it appear that the Christians were part of the “Lord’s Resistance Army.”  Any time there was a Catholic priest talking against Kony with a large cross on his front, they carefully cropped that out.  The three California guys had a long prelude about how they were going into a dangerous place in Africa and probably were going to be killed, but they were going to find a story anyhow. They went to great lengths to show that they didn’t know what they were doing with their cameras and how naive they were about what they were getting in to. The first part of their film was entertaining but narcissistic.

Now this latest Kony2012 shows clips of the Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell playing with his toddler. The founders of I.C. are making yet another emotional appeal for Americans to send them money to their organization so they can continue to bring awareness to this problem.  Yet there have been several people on the ground in their respective African nations who are saying there is a different view to what these well-meaning “outsiders” are producing.  All the hype of sending money to I.C. to continue this fight, well, what about the Christian pastor in Iran who was just executed for turning from his Muslim to become a Christian. Where is the outrage about that? (crickets)

David Batstone, co-founder of “Not For Sale” produced an article to what is really happening according to an African who was in Kony’s army.  Here’s another clip from Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist who claims that things have improved over the past several years.  We, as Americans, live a very sheltered life compared to what the people in Muslim countries go through who want to be Christians or what fear Africans are living in with losing their children to these marauding bandits that have weapons.  The children they kidnap are their shields of protection. Those parents who want their missing children back, must separate Kony from his child concubines and other child soldiers who are forced to kill. These parents want their children back!!!

Yes, the producers are “Invisible Children” probably have their heart in the right place but is this Joseph Kony really the “white man’s burden” to help save Africans from themselves? But are we, as westerners, to stand helplessly by as parents lose their children and as children lose their childhood?  Why is there evil in the world? No easy answers but awareness about human trafficking can help make us love those who are close to us knowing that life is fragile, handle with prayer.

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