Kony 2012 Goes to Washington
The Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video blew Uganda and the atrocities of warlord Joseph Kony into the world's consciousness this week. The 77 million viewers of this video in little more than a week crystallize the powerful combination of video and the Internet.
The bellwether issue is not Kony, but the new-found power of independent video creators as agents of change. As Hollywood discovered 100 years ago, some cinematic hooks really work well.
The Kony 2012 video is a modern-day version of the classic Director Frank Capra’s movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the movie, Jimmy Stewart plays a naive U.S. Senator who takes on the powerful by rallying children to fight corruption.
Kony 2012 uses many of the emotional techniques from Capra's movie. Here are the similar themes...
All powerful agent of change: The video starts by telling its viewers about the power of the Internet to change the world. This gripping theme gives a viewer the sense that one person can make a difference. Capra’s Mr. Smith embodies that spirit, and Stewart is brilliant in the role as Senator Jefferson Smith.
Adroit storytelling: Great videos tell a story. The Invisible Children’s video tells us about exotic places where bad things are happening to women and children. The movie uses a quasi-Boy Scout group called the Boy Rangers, who fight rich developers over a potential camp site out west.
Authoritarian bad guy versus the innocent child: The filmmaker’s child learns about Kony and expresses his thoughts in the video. The young boys in Capra’s movie rise up against the state’s political boss, who is organizing the U.S. Senate to sell the land to developers. This powerful combination of child versus madman is a mythological storyline that goes back to the Greeks.Continued on the next page