Can "Cover the Night" save KONY 2012 on April 20?

SAN DIEGO – April 19, 2012 –  With no fanfare, “KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous” was posted to YouTube on Wednesday, April 4 by the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Invisible Children.

Now the real test comes two weeks later with Invisible Children’s “Cover the Night” event scheduled for Friday, April 20.  

So far the KONY 2012 Part II video had been viewed 1.8 million times. With any other video for a nonprofit cause, we’d be saying “Wow!” But the original video has been viewed nearly 88 million times. Let that sink in… 88 million times in six weeks.

Instead of saying “Wow!” to 1.8 million, we’re tempted to say, “So what?”

In response to comments that the original video was nothing more than an example of “slacktivism,” KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous provides viewers more specific ways to take action, including contacting elected officials and other policymakers with a request to increase funding to help end the conflict in central Africa; urging the capture of Joseph Kony himself; and taking part in local activism. The video is heavy on beach cleanups and trash pickups as examples.

The video announces a worldwide day of activism, “Cover the Night” on Friday, April 20. The final few minutes of the video ask individuals to gather their friends, perform three hours of local community service, and participate in guerilla-style visibility projects by creating visual displays in the community. Examples shown in the video include hanging banners from buildings, stenciling the KONY 2012 logo on streets, and painting murals on walls.

There is also a disclaimer that no one should break the law while doing so. It drives the viewer to a website to register.

The group Invisible Children has released its sequel video, KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous.

Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey narrates the 20 minutes follow-up video. Keesey explains what led him to join the effort in support of charity co-founder Jason Russell’s original vision for the organization. He updates activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the month since the original video aired, gives over much of the video’s time to voices from the affected areas in Africa reacting to the original project; and presents the call to action for a worldwide rally on Friday, April 20.

Joseph Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for two decades, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves.

Kony and the rebel group were ejected from northern Uganda in 2005. Kony and few hundred followers are believed to roam the remote jungle straddling the borders of the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan.

The new video explains more about what Kony’s forces are doing in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, which was barely discussed in the first project. There is new footage of Kony and his followers torching villages and training in the jungle.

Social media is once again at the center of this story as Invisible Children uses this second film in large part to respond to the criticism about turning an extremely complex issue into a simplistic tale of good and evil that does not depict today’s reality in Uganda and the surrounding region.

“One month later, we are releasing this film to explain the creation of the campaign, the progress that’s already been made, and what we can all do now to support the ongoing efforts to stop the violence of the LRA,” says narrator Keesey.

The new KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous video encourages local activism like this beach cleanup project in San Diego. Photo: KONY 2012 Part II video.

This is a huge gamble for Invisible Children. Anything less than a massive global response will be seen as a failure due to the huge expectations raised by the original KONY 2012. There is no possible way Invisible Children could have predicted the strength of the reaction to its first Kony 2012 video, and no possible way the group could manage the onslaught of attention both positive and negative it received.

Will using another video to respond to the criticism of the original video soothe Invisible Children’s critics and set the group on the path it likely had intended in the first place? Will the video’s viewers choose to take part in “Cover The Night” on April 20, or will it produce an under whelming response and renew accusations of all talk, no action slacktivism by its intended audience of 20 and 30-somethings?

If you look out across your neighborhood on Friday and see community groups cleaning up vacant properties and shorelines, or painting rundown playgrounds, or reading to children, or even flying banners from buildings - or not - you’ll know the answer.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.   

Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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