Notorious Images Shape the Discourse of the KONY2012 Campaign

Founders of Invisible Children posing with guns alongside members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), who have fought against the LRA. Photograph: Glenna Gordon –

The above photograph was captured by Glenna Gordon – an American photographer and journalist – at the Sudan-Congo border during the 2008 peace talks while she was on assignment for the Associated Press. It shows the founders of Invisible Children — Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole, and Jason Russell — posing with guns alongside members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), who have fought against the LRA.

This particular image has been a point of controversy discussed on many blogs and forums. Vice magazine posted the photograph with the headline “Should I Donate Money to Kony 2012 or Not?” Interrogating the plausibility of the campaign as a whole. The image has been cited as illustrating Invisible Children’s emphasis on direct military intervention in Uganda as the primary solution to the nations unique political situation. Another blog accurately suggested the photo helped paint a “picture of neo-colonialism.”

Gordon states she felt a lot of discomfort when the SPLA had handed there weapons to the Invisible Children members: “because if we were attacked by the LRA then, the SPLA should have had guns in their hands.” Gordon agrees with Chris Blattman’s suggestion that the image: “hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden… the saviour attitude,” and states Invisible Children’s work is: “emotionally manipulative, and all things I try as a journalist not to be.”

Overall, this image is indicative of one of the main points of criticism of Invisible Children’s campaign – the idea of US military intervention as a solution to the Ugandan situation. More this issue can be found here.

A group of Ugandans watch a screening of Kony 2012, made by the charity Invisible Children. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The above photograph was taken by AFP/Getty Images and shows a group of Ugandans viewing a screening of the KONY2012 film.

This image illustrates how Ugandan citizens are passive consumers of a phenomenon centred around their own nation. The image depicts how they have no choice but to sit back and watch ‘others’ tell their story. The New York Times states: “an official close to the prime minister’s office said that many in Uganda’s leadership privately found the video “neocolonial.”’

The photograph brings attention to those who have been voiceless throughout the entire campaign. Director of Ugandan Charity, The African Youth Initiative Network (Ayinet), Victor Ochen, arranged the screening to provide an opportunity for victims to see them film – mindful that less than 2% of Ugandans have internet access. Orchen states: “People were very angry about the film… They were all saying, ‘This is not about us, it does not reflect our lives’.”

Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Photograph: Stuart Price/EPA

This is an image of Joseph Rao Kony in southern Sudan taken by Stuart Price/ETA during November of 2006. The image is featured throughout the Kony2012 film and plays a central role in merging the idea of villainy and Joseph Kony.

The image was also featured across a number of newspapers and online platforms that reported on Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign. The photograph has since  became a core visual symbol of the Kony2012 campaign.

More on Joseph Kony here.

Still image from Kony2012 when the director shows his five-year-old son a picture of Kony and the survivor Jacob and explains the situation in its most simple form.

The above is a still image from the Kony2012 film by Invisible Children Inc.which depicts what is arguably the central,most  symbolic moment in the video.

This is the moment where the director shows his five-year-old son a picture of Kony and the survivor Jacob and explains the complex Ugandan situation is it’s most simple form. Some argue that forcing the audience to view the evil ‘black man’ through the eyes of a winsome, white-skinned, blonde haired child is playing on entrenched racial stereotypes while depriving Ugandans of a voice.

More on this issue here.


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