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Invisible Children co-founder detained for vandalizing cars, public masturbation

Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, who was involved in the making of the Kony 2012 video, was detained in San Diego yesterday morning after being found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars, running through traffic and screaming in his underwear. NBC San Diego reports:

Several people attempted to calm him down and when officers arrived they said he was cooperative.

"He was no problem for the police department however, during the evaluation we learned that we probably needed to take care of him," said [Lt. Andra] Brown at a press conference. "So officers detained him and transferred him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment."

The SDPD suspects Mr. Russell was under the influence of something.

Invisible Children Co-Founder Detained: SDPD

Revealed! Kony 2012's sinister Musical Comedy roots

From the first time I watched "Kony 2012," I always sensed a link with the storyline of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Book of Mormon musical. But sweet fancy Moses, I did not know how closely linked the two truly were.

Aaron Stewart-Ahn tells us about the video above (which has been taken down by Invisible Children, but mirrored elsewhere):

Here's where the money has been going to: Invisible Children founder Jason Russell's vanity dance musical numbers which start off with exploitative footage of suffering children. How did no one else catch this? It makes the Kony 2012 video look subtle and sane. He's basically using this to fund his desire to make Glee.

This is where the millions are being spent: vanity musicals. Did Trey Parker write this??!! Russell has mentioned repeatedly how his ambitions were to make musicals. He intimated that he was going to make the musical popular again á la Glee, but this didn't work out—so he ended up in advocacy. It was that chat at the evangelical conference. So, here's a direct youtube link to 9m 10secs in the video where he talks about making musicals, and casually talks about his dream of documenting genocide.

That bit with the t-shirt with the African child on it is just... I'm speechless. Wonder why they've removed it from their YouTube channel, since it looks so damn expensive? It's insane, isn't it? I mean, seriously: it makes Scientology videos look charmingly naive.

UK funnyman Charlie Brooker has a bit of fun with Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 viral phenomenon, in the video embedded below.

Bonus round, below. Brooker asks, "Can ANYONE explain how this EPIC visual embarrassment helps Africa? OH GOD THERE'S MORE. Also: how much did this cost, did donations fund it, and what the TWIRLING FUCK does it mean?"

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Kony 2012 screening in Uganda results in anger, rocks thrown at screen

[Video Link to Al Jazeera report]

Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" video has been viewed by millions online around the world. By view counts alone, it is now the most viral video in history. It is now the first ever YouTube hit publicly screened in the northern Ugandan town of Lira—and it didn't go so well.

The screening was hosted by African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), an NGO founded by Victor Ochen (LRA abductee turned peacekeeper) mentioned in this previous Boing Boing post. Ochen and AYINET thought Ugandans who had been personally affected by the LRA and Kony deserved an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire attended the AYINET screening of Kony 2012 last night, and tweeted that local radio stations heavily publicized the event in advance. "There were 5000+ people at the screening," she says, "Many rode bicycles from villages to see the #kony2012 video in Lira."

Malcolm Webb attended the event in the Mayor’s Gardens in the city center, and he reports for Al Jazeera:

Having heard so many great things about the film, the crowd’s expectations were high. People I spoke to anticipated seeing a video that showed the world the terrible atrocities that they had suffered during the conflict, and the ongoing struggles they still face trying to rebuild their lives after two lost decades.

The audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son. Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

One woman I spoke to made the comparison of selling Osama Bin Laden paraphernalia post 9/11 – likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well intentioned the campaign behind it. The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled.

Kagumire adds this morning that AYINET has suspended further screenings, "not to further harm victims or provoke any violent response."

AYINET has published a statement on the screening here.

Invisible Children's bracelets and t-shirts aren't likely to receive a warm welcome in Uganda, either. Kagumire says "The Northern Ugandan people want the government to stop Kony 2012 tshirts from entering the country; the video sparked heated talks on 5 radio stations in Lira... one caller said #kony2012 t-shirts cannot cross Karuma. It would be too provocative."

Read more of Al Jazeera's report here, and follow Al Jazeera's reporting on the Kony 2012 phenomenon here.

(via @somebadideas)

Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay, creationist, Christian right donors


(Photo: The Kony 2012/Invisible Children guys posing with SPLA soldiers on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Photograph by Glenna Gordon.)


Over at Alternet, Bruce Wilson digs in to the sources of funding for the group behind "Kony 2012," and discovers 990 IRS tax forms and yearly financial disclosure reports from the nonprofit and its major donors "tell a story that’s jarringly at odds with the secular, airbrushed, feelgood image" it has cultivated.

The documents show that Invisible Children, Inc. received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the biggest financial backers of California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8, with links to James Dobson, The Family (see Jeff Sharlet's excellent book on the subject), and ideologically similar Christian Right entities.

Snip:

(...) What does Invisible Children share in common with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (pegged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”), or the Fellowship Foundation — one of the nonprofit entities of the Washington-based evangelical organization also known as “The Family” (covered in two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet) whose leader Doug Coe has been captured on video celebrating the dedication inspired by Hitler, Lenin, and Mao ?

What does IC have in common with the ministry of California evangelist Ed Silvoso, who works directly with leading Ugandan author and promoter of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (also called the “kill the gays bill”) Julius Oyet — who claims that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals”?

The answer? — all of these ministries – the Discovery Institute, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The Fellowship Foundation, The Call, Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism, and Invisible Children – received at least $100,000 in 2008 from what has emerged in the last decade as the biggest funder of the hard, antigay, creationist Christian right: the National Christian Foundation.

Wilson's post is cross-published here with additional links at Talk2Action, his site on religion and politics. I've been blogging about the viral phenomenon here at Boing Boing, with perspective from aid workers, and a round-up of voices from Africa here (just updated with new additions).

A related digging-through-the financials post at Demand Nothing argues that the group works in a manner similar in style to "evangelical modes of operation" because they are effectively "a continuation of the same tactics used by more explicitly christian charities that operate in Africa and internationally." Snip:

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Medical aid worker on Kony 2012: "The aid industry has just been Biebered."


(Photo: Joseph Kony, via Reuters)

On his personal blog, Marc DuBois of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) writes about the impact of the viral Kony 2012 campaign on the work of long-established humanitarian efforts in Africa.

"Most madmen love the idea of fame, so Joseph Kony’s wet dream just came true," writes DuBois.

Many aid workers are simultaneously offended by the project and jealous of its unprecedented reach. At the time of this blog post, the promotional video for Invisible Children's fundraising/"awareness" campaign about the fugitive African rebel leader has exceeded 70 million views, making it the fastest-growing viral video in internet history.

Snip from DuBois' blog post:

So why, really, are we aid insiders so bothered? It’s the big green monster. Is there another charity whose message has captivated so many so fast? About six months ago, my niece “Lisa” in Chicago excitedly asked me to contribute to Invisible Children. At the time, I’d never heard of it. I poked around. I can’t say I was taken by the cause, but I couldn’t help feeling envious of IC’s having so effectively reached Lisa, usually more interested in dance and boys. These young upstarts at IC are the next big thing. And we aren’t.

Why? Well, for one, they have a simple message that people grasp. For another, good looks. More importantly, Invisible Children has discovered what the entertainment industry figured out a decade ago. It’s not about us old timers. It’s not people who read the Philip Roth or contribute conscientiously to their pension fund. It’s about the under 25s, maybe even the under 15s. It’s about the kids. That’s why there are a couple dozen TV shows about teenage vampires. That’s why we have Jedward.

The aid industry has just been Biebered. IC’s hundreds of thousands of donor / activist – they were invisible to us. Kids. That’s the target and that’s the message. If you think the aid world depends on gray haired HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals, aka rich folk), wait and see what IC does with its pubescent legions. My advice to the aid industry? First, get over it. Then, get on the boat.

Read the rest here.

DuBois isn't speaking for MSF, but I spoke to another MSFer via Twitter today: Avril Benoît, the group's Director of Communications, who pointed me to DuBois' blog post. I asked her if MSF had released an official statement in reaction to the Kony campaign: No. But, she said, "MSF teams in LRA-affected regions of DR Congo, Central African Republic & South Sudan are likely wary of retaliation risks."

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