Gawker and Kony

In 2010 Gawker had 215,504,439 visits with users overwhelmingly from the United States with an 80.7% rate, followed by Canada at 6.01% and the United Kingdom at 3.01%.[1] Since then their readership has grown considerably-as I speak 8,242 people are currently reading. This blog/newsmagazine in based in New York City whose readership is twenty something’s young urban professionals who like satirical editorials. I was interested to look into their take on KONY2012 because I wanted to know what some people in our age range were being exposed to without actively looking for answers.

Two days after the release of the video Gawker published “How You Should Feel About KONY2012, the Campaign That’s Taking Over the Internet: A Guide” to their explainers section. In this piece Max Read divides the possible opinions into 5 camps. Within each explanation the author states who believes this opinion, what it entails and the problem with this opinion. The first is “Joseph Kony is a horrible human being and war criminal” stated that almost everyone believes this and that indisputably “Kony is a very bad dude”. Here he explains what the LRA is, how he uses children soldiers, and how he is no longer in Uganda. Read doesn’t believe there is any problem with this opinion except figuring out the best next step.

Opinion 2 is that of Invisible Children: the U.S. military should intervene to find and arrest Kony. Here they summarize the campaign then state that there is a “gross oversimplification of a really complicated situation”. Opinion 3 is the opposite of the previous opinion, stated that the U.S. military has actually made the attempt at Kony’s capture worse by prompting retaliatory strikes. Read also does not forget to mention that the Ugandan army has not had the best human rights record.

Finally opinion 4 states “Invisible Children in misusing funds, misrepresenting facts and possibly making the situation in Uganda worse”. Here the author points out that under a third of IC money was spent on direct services last year, that the video is misleading and simple, and that Uganda has more urgent issues that Kony. Read compares this campaign to a “change your profile picture to a cartoon character to protest child abuse” and points of how the film centers on “well-meaning westerners will save Africa”.

Finally, the article ends on a less serious note mocking those on twitter calling Kony a gangsta (wouldn’t be a Gawker article without some humor). And overall I was pretty impressed that such a short article could drive home many of the most important points we had been discussing all week. When considering if this video was a good think or a bad thing I felt very conflicted. This did start a very important dialogue, but it also lead million of people to believe that this oversimplification was true. This cannot be forgotten but it is nice to know that thousands of people read and commented on this article.


[1] Read, Max. “How You Should Feel About Kony 2012, the Campaign That’s Taking Over the Internet: A Guide.” Gawker. 8 Mar. 2012. Web. 06 Apr. 2012. link here.

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About hmfraser

Student of Environmental Studies and International Development View all posts by hmfraser

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