Make Joseph Kony famous. That is the goal of a 30-minute video produced by the nonprofit organization Invisible Children. The video, released just two weeks ago, has already received more than 38 million views and counting between Vimeo and YouTube, and has drawn lots of attention - both good and bad - to its cause. Trending Now spoke with CEO Ben Keesey in an exclusive interview where he gave us an inside look at how the video became so viral so fast, and responded to criticism over the organization's finances and its solutions to the conflict in Uganda.
The documentary follows filmmaker Jason Russell in his pursuit to end the conflict in Uganda by capturing Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army, his personal army of kidnapped children.
Invisible Children says that Kony has gone unnoticed for his crimes against humanity because the American government does not see him as a direct threat to American foreign policy or interests. Invisible Children feels the injustice against the children has gone on for far too long, and the group wants to put a stop to it.
The organization decided to raise Kony's international profile so American politicians would take notice. The goal is to make Joseph Kony famous through making the documentary and having everyone possible, primarily college students, share the story of the tragedies. Using social media, word of mouth, posters and awareness rallies, Invisible Children has aimed to have Kony captured by the end of 2012 and to restore peace and prosperity to communities in Central Africa.
While awareness and support of the Invisible Children's movement has increased by the millions, it has been met with some controversy, including accusations that the organization is providing an idealistic and overly simplistic solution to an incredibly complex problem. Some have also pointed out that there are other people committing crimes against humanity and also other countries, like Sudan and Somalia, that are in need of support and funding just as much as Uganda.
In addition, public financial records indicate that only 32 percent of the money raised last year went to direct services to help the children affected by the LRA. The other 68 percent went to things like staff salaries, film production, and travel costs. Plus, even though Invisible Children is advocating for a peaceful resolution in bringing Kony to justice, it is not opposed to direct military intervention.