Photo Credit: Adam Pletts/Getty
Since launching Monday, "KONY 2012," a video decrying the atrocities of Josephy Kony, the Ugandan leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, has gone viral, garnering 36 million views (and counting!) thanks to strategic Facebook and Twitter campaigns and support from the likes of Ryan Seacrest, Diddy, Emma Stone and Justin Bieber.
Created by Jason Russell, the founder of Invisible Children, the heartfelt video is meant to shine a light on the fact that Kony has abducted more than 30,000 children during his 26 years in power, using them as sex slaves, soldiers and porters. Ultimately, Invisible Children's goal is to spur the removal and arrest of Kony from central Africa in 2012 via a campaign dubbed "Kony 2012."
Kony 2012 is anything but your average viral video. So what makes the 29-minute, 59-second (Yes, it's really that long!) story so compelling? Well, in addition to staggering statistics and some genuinely heartbreaking confessions from Jacob, a child trapped in the conflict, there's also Gavin, Russell's young, chubby-cheeked son who can be seen dancing, acting and making snow angels. Russell smartly uses his adorable offspring as a way to teach the audience about what's happening in central Africa -- and as a reminder that African children as young as Gavin are being kidnapped and abused by Kony daily. Oh, and the video has a pretty great soundtrack too.
The spiked interest in Kony has also shined a light on Invisible Children, which has its own critics who claim the group spends only 35 percent of total profits on the direct cause (the rest is said to be spent on salaries, travel, film production and funding the Ugandan military). This week the organization responded to the criticism on its site, which you can view here.
Still, I think we can all agree that Invisible Children's intentions are good. Because of this video, today tens of millions of people aren't talking about Snooki or Kim Kardashian or Dancing With the Stars. Instead they are talking about who Joseph Kony is, and how he needs to be stopped. That, and how Kim Kardashian tweeted about Kony 2012 yesterday.
Keep track of Kony 2012 by following the hashtags #stopkony and #kony2012 or follow Invisible Children at @Invisible.
Courtney Thompson is iVillage’s senior homepage producer. Follow her on Twitter: @courtneythomp.