Kony 2012, Part 122 – Beyond Death

April 5, 2022

Yesterday, Invisible Children, the non-profit that became an overnight YouTube sensation a decade ago for its Kony 2012 campaign released another video about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Titled Kony 2012: Part 122 – Beyond Death, the video has, as of this morning, registered 7 hits on YouTube. [Editors note: 8, after refreshing]. While the video series has lost much of its viewership over the decade since it began, it continues its reign as the longest-running VVMCGC, or “Viral Video Marketing Campaign for a Good Cause.”

The campaign has continued its tireless efforts, even though Joseph Kony was killed in 2014. His death was widely reported in 2014, and the details have been recently revealed by then-President Rick Santorum’s e-memoir, God’s 70 Million Write-In Votes. Santorum had authorized a secret mission by U.S. Special Forces to execute Kony, under pressure from celebrity lobbyists and in an ironic continuation of the dubious policies of his predecessor.

Kony, it turned out, had quietly relocated to a small compound in Rwanda, together with his dwindling LRA. When the Special Forces struck, the LRA consisted of 15 child soldiers, among which were several six-year olds freshly abducted by Kony. All were killed in the mission, and Americans cheered at yet another successful series of executions on foreign soil conducted without the slow bureaucracy of a jury trial.

Meanwhile, Invisible Children must now contend with stiff VVMCGC competition among other organizations. The non-profit can be credited with the spawning of a new industry: 2014 marked the rise of the CYO – Chief YouTube Officer. CYOs were initially criticized for commanding seven-figure salaries and spending as much as 98% of the budgets of their organizations, but supporters justify them on the basis of the funding they bring in. Greg Mortenson, founder of CAI, noted, “Heck, they’re worth every penny – thanks to our CYO, we’ve managed to buy more copies of Three Cups of Tea to give away than ever before. And, it’s all legit, too!”

Voices on Woofer, the Hypernet service that allows people to blast 10-character messages directly into the brains of 7 billion people, seem not to mind. Soap opera heart-throb Justin Bieber woofed “#Kony2012!” Senator Oprah Winfrey barked “#Part122!” And, four-year-old star of the reality TV show Sex for Kids,Rihanna Jolie arfed, “#Beyond!”

Invisible Children continues its efforts to counteract the message of their first video in 2012: In a press release on their Woofsite, they say, “We want to clarify that our intent was not to spark the U.S. occupation of D.R.C. We were really just going for awareness, which is the first step towards meaningful action. We think we’ve finally gotten it right in Part 122, and we hope that meaningful action will follow during our April 20, 2022 event when we ask everyone in the world to run through the streets in their underwear, carrying signs that say that Kony should be brought to justice. Posthumously, if necessary.”

A few old-school commentators have met the video with a debate about the factual accuracy and societal value of the Kony 2012 series. Does Part 122 answer the questions of its predecessors? (Most seem to agree: not quite yet.) Is Kony really dead? (He was last seen by several people in Memphis, Tennessee.) Is slacktivism really of any value? (A new group calling itself “White Saviors” has worn the criticism into a badge of pride: “Whiteness is a state of mind, not of skin color. We welcome anyone who subscribes to an unlimited data service to join us in woofing about violent conflict and extreme poverty.”) Is decision-making by marketing really the best way to allocate public resources? (One handsome blogger’s analysis from a decade ago seems relevant even today.)

The rest of the world, however, has moved on. The honor of the most popular VVMCGC in 2022, with over 6 billion hits on YouTube, goes to the One Chip Per Child Foundation, which has released a heartwarming video of a child simultaneously self-medicating and self-educating itself thanks to an embedded neural chip that takes over its nervous and endocrine systems. Congress has since passed a bill formally affirming the importance of neural chips for international development.

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