KONY: Kony 2012’s sequel tries to build on campaign’s buzz

In this photo taken Oct. 5, 2009, soldiers of the Uganda Peoples Defence Army burn a heap of about 3500 confiscated illegal arms, recovered from Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels' caches and robbers throughout Uganda, and ranging from AK47s to machine guns, in Kampala, Uganda. The voices demanding that the U.S. Congress stop the brutality of African warlord Joseph Kony and his LRA belong to the nation’s children, some of whose parents work in Congress. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera)

A month after the Kony 2012 documentary about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony went viral, Invisible Children released its sequel, “Kony 2012 Part II – Beyond Famous,” Wednesday. The sequel expands on the message delivered in the original film, which had an unprecedented 100 million views on YouTube.

The 20-minute film describes the creation of the campaign, the progress the effort has made since the initial film and explains the actions of Invisible Children’s “Comprehensive Approach,” including civilian protection, peaceful surrender and rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The narrator, Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey, addresses critics of the initial film who said it simplified the actions of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

“For the first time in history, people can see each other and want to protect each other, and this changes everything,” Keesey says in the film. “This is why we made Kony 2012.”

Dana Leonard, a sophomore in the College of Communication and Marquette’s Invisible Children publicity coordinator, said the new approach and movie are working. She added the second film expands on the first film, and gives people the hard facts.

But many wonder if the second Kony 2012 video has the potential to match the first.

Barrett McCormick, professor and chair of the Marquette political science department, said it is hard to imagine the second film having the same impact as the first, but he predicted the sequel will still keep people’s attention.

“It is, after all, a sequel, and the new things it delivers are not particularly novel or exciting,” McCormick said. “On the other hand — because it makes a similar appeal — it most likely serves to keep the buzz about Kony 2012 going a little longer than it otherwise might.”

John McAdams, a Marquette professor of political science, said it is hard to tell how big the second film is going to be.

“The Kony 2012 video created a huge amount of buzz, and this one will be able to ride on the back of that buzz,” McAdams said. “Who knows when Kony will be brought down? My sense, however, is that his army is built around the man, and taking out Kony will probably cause this particular threat to fall apart.”

But McAdams said the second film should have more hard facts.

“Kony is a bad guy, but I would like to see more hard information on the history and politics of the issue, and fewer well-scrubbed and self-satisfied faces talking about how moral and engaged they are,” McAdams said.

McCormick said “there are wonderful and terrible things in these films,” including calling attention to harm done by Kony, motivating younger audiences and wanting social justice. But he said he is concerned about Invisible Children and the low percentage of its revenues spent on its cause.

“They spend a large portion of the money they raise on their own infrastructure and on raising more money,” McCormick said. “I am concerned that the work they do

in northern Uganda is not particularly effective. They have a reputation for not collaborating with other (non-governmental organizations) and for spending large amounts of money to bring in expatriates to work as teachers for short periods of time.”

Leonard said these reactions are expected.

“The media is not one to jump on your side readily,” Leonard said. “The criticisms will continue and it’s because they have a preconceived notion (of the issue). Hopefully, this will educate more people and bring more facts to the situation.”