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China: Debate on Kony 2012

This post is part of our special coverage Kony 2012.

The short video Kony 2012, posted on YouTube on March 5, 2012, and narrated by Invisible Children's US founders, Jason Russell, has become viral on the Internet with millions of views worldwide.

The video also drew significant attention in China. On the popular Chinese video site Youku, the same video harvested over 8 million views in a few days and people on social networks such as Weibo and Renren circulated the film widely. Chinese subtitles were also added.

Initially, comments show that most people were outrageous of the crimes committed by Kony as depicted in the video. People appealed to their friends to spread the film and “make Kony famous”, as called by the Invisible Children.

A Youku usre named SherieL said [zh]:

请耐心看完!身在信息轰炸的时代,能迅速了解未知世界的每个截面,是我们的幸运;能在滑动食指敲打键盘那一刻改变某些人某些事,是我们的力量!请善用!make invisible power visible, make Kony famous!

Please watch it patiently until the last minute! At the age of information boom, it is our fortune to be able to quickly know the unknown world beyond our touch; it is our power to be able to hit the keyboard and make a change to the world and people within a minute! Please make a good use of it! Make invisible power visible, make Kony famous!

But soon suspicions of the validity of information presented by Invisible Children grow. As Polly Curtis and Tom McCarthy from Guardian state:

• The LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] is not in Uganda but now operates in the DRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic

• In October last year, Obama authorised the deployment of 100 US army advisers to help the Ugandan military track down Kony, with no results disclosed to date.

• The LRA is much smaller than previously thought. It does not have have 30,000 or 60,000 child soldiers. The figure of 30,000 refers to the total number of children abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years.

Chinese bloggers, moreover, widely questioned the intention of the video besides the doubt of misinformation. Many thought the purpose of the video was to keep the United States (US) army in Africa and call for US intervention in the region.

Shen Yang, a Renren user, posted a long article [zh] expressing her doubt and got thousands of views and comments debating the issue:

短短一个多星期的时间里,一个名为“Kony 2012″的短片在各大视频网站以及社交网站上被顶至首页,点击飙千万,短片中强调的”集结众人的力量可以改变世界“的想法其实并不新鲜,在我看来这样的代表雷同价值观的口号在好莱坞的电影中可能已经被喊烂大街了。混和着普世价值,国际人道主义,“悲天悯人”的心态立场的观点在今天通过短片+网络进行铺天盖地的宣传显得尤为有感染力

Within a bit more than a week, a video named Kony 2012 went viral and drew tens of millions of views. Actually the idea that “all together we can change the world” is not fresh. To me, similar slogans with appeals of the kind have been banal. The mixture of universal values, international humanitarianism, and sympathy was greatly amplified by the viral video and Internet, making a huge impact.

Whereas the author says that she doesn't tend to point finger at the US government, she did point out that she was suspicious of the motivation of Invisible Children, the so-called “NGO”.


The situation in Africa is complicated. The dispatch of troops to kill scores of soldiers there cannot solve the problems. Misled intervention may even result in something worse.

对其在短片中所表达出的一些倾向非常怀疑:1.持续寻求资金援助 2.呼吁国际社会,尤其是美国,(原片中的一个情节是导演给奥巴马写了邮件)对Kony施行抓捕行动

I was suspicious of some inclinations exposed in the video: 1) the consistent seeking of funding, 2) the appeal to the international society, the US in particular (with a letter addressed to Obama shown in the video), to capture Kony.
There are no more than some hundreds of soldiers in the LRA, posing no significant threat to the local community. The local government is fully capable to sanction the organization without support from other countries. The Ugandan government has never formally asked for any support from the international community.

以杀死Joseph Kony的名义武装干涉乌干达已经在十几年以来反复执行并且毫无结果。每一次行动都让当地的居民损失惨重并且使得LRA人员散落在各个平民区内。

Numerous interventions in the name of decapitating Joseph Kony have been carried out within the last decade but were all in vain. Each time, the local community suffered from collateral damage and revenge and LRA personnel were dispersed among civilians.

She opposes the blind belief on what the video tells and was alerted that the masses may be manipulated. She also jettisons the Chinese video description seen on Youku which states that Kony has to be captured and penalized:


I think most people don't even care about how Uganda is like, not mentioning its history of civil wars. Then how can the uploader make such a subjective assertion?


It is not simply a duality of good and evil. It is more complicated than that. The LRA problem for example is a result of tribal conflicts and power games. The continuous intervention of western powers in Africa has brought no benefit but actually intensified the complexity of power structures and interest conflicts in the local community.


If people really want to help Africa, why not appeal to Africans to make their state sovereignty intact and lay the constitutional foundation firm? So-called charity donations not only failed to help Africa rid of poverty but actually fueled the high inflation and government corruption, throwing the society into a vicious cycle.

The name of the article, actually, is ‘Media as a Weapon’.

A more aggressive point of view [zh] questioning the US's support of the video as an excuse for future intervention is expressed by Ye Ruihong. The technique of storytelling employed in the video, he said, is very dangerous because with a good story no body cares what the truth is.


After watching the video, I felt one of my long-held thoughts was proved: in this entertainment-above-all time, a good story is everything. Truth? Not that important.

我并不是在说,这部影片中的故事都是假的…这部影片虚假的地方在于,其作为一个整体所讲述的故事:在非洲有一个Bad Guy,然后本来没有人在乎他,尽管他犯下了累累罪行,但是在热爱和平热爱人类的广大Facebook用户的呼吁之下,正义的代言人,世界警察山姆大叔终于要动手将这个Bad Guy绳之于法了。看到这个视频的你们必须继续支持我们,让山姆大叔在非洲继续待下去。

I am not saying that the whole story is fake…but the story as a whole is fake: “there is a bad guy in Africa, but no one cared about him in spite of his crimes. However, because of the call by human-peace-loving Facebookers, the representative of justice, Uncle Sam, is finally going to take out the bad guy. You have to support us by watching the video, and let Uncle Sam stay in Africa.

The author echoes the saying that the video is a conspiracy to consolidate US control in Uganda for the oil discovered there:

它没有告诉你至今美国军队根本就没有撤出乌干达的打算,不用劳烦我们呼吁他们留下;它没有告诉你Invisible Children不是由一群志同道合的年轻人建立的,而是由前JP Morgan的银行家建立的;它没有告诉你在2006年的时候乌干达发现了储量丰富的石油。

It doesn't tell you the US army has no intention to withdraw from Uganda at all, so we don't have to ask them to stay; it doesn't tell you Invisible Children is not founded by a group of young men but former bankers in JP Morgan; it doesn't tell you oil was found in Uganda in 2006.

He connects to a series of events:


It doesn't tell you how the kingdom of Hawaii was annexed; it doesn't tell you how Cuba was colonized and the US installed one dictator after another…it doesn't tell you how the Philippines was colonized by the US in World War Two [WW2] and then economically colonized after WW2…it doesn't tell you how the US invaded the Bahamas in the name of justice to control the canal… After all, the US would use the media to tell every one how anti-human the enemy is and then invade openly.


It is simple: the US never helped others for the sake of peace, democracy or freedom. US military action is all about the US interest.


Would Facebook change anything?


The “best” and most hypocritical thing about the movie is that it tries to convince people a social network earning huge profit by providing entertainment would change something….the only thing Facebook is focusing on and has accomplished is to keep people on it and get more profit.


Or, more attention means something different?

不知道有多少人还会记得,2005年时,有一个名为Live 8的盛大活动,呼吁G8在2010年之前将对贫困国家的援助提高到500亿美元,其中一半给非洲国家。而在随后召开的G8峰会上,各国首脑也承诺要有所行动。

I don't know how many people remember that in 2005 there was a huge event called Live 8, asking G8 to raise their aid to poor countries to 50 billions. Later, leaders of many countries promised to act too.

然后,没有行动。 至今,那些个承诺都不过是空话。而人们是善忘的,

Then, no action. So far, those promised are made in vain. People tend to forget.


In a world of Facebook and Twitter, what is known to public and circulated widely is not truth but good stories. So on this stage justice won't prevail, the best story will.


Therefore, how effective a lie is depends on how many people are involved. It is obviously a campaign to justify the military presence of the US in Africa but now it turns into YOUR appeal for the intervention. Goebbels said a lied repeated 10,000 times becomes the truth. He is out of date. Now, as long as you are involved in the making of a lie for once, the lie is then the truth for you. All the people that helped distribute the video have proved it.

于是,就不会有人去追究,谁造就了几个世纪以来亚非拉的贫穷与支离? 所以,真正要做的不是呼吁美国去插手,而是叫它收手。

So, no one would ask any more who should be responsible for the poverty and disintegration of Asia and Africa in the centuries. What we really need to do is not to ask for US intervention, but ask for its withdrawal.

This post is part of our special coverage Kony 2012.

1 comment

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