Joseph Kony & Jason Russell : An Unfortunate Situation
Jason Russell has received international attention for his 30 minute short film “Stop Kony 2012″. The film, which has gone viral on YouTube, receiving some 100 million hits, highlights the atrocities of alleged Ugandan war lord Joseph Kony. The film has received mixed reviews. While some persons have readily joined the campaign, others, including myself, have voiced concerns and questioned the motives and intentions of the film.
Last week, Jason Russell was videotaped naked and masturbating on the streets of San Diego and unfortunately the critics of his film have taken this as an opportunity to make very grave allegations about Jason’s character. I have seen comments which imply that Mr. Russell is a criminal and has used the donations received from the Kony film to fuel a supposed alcohol addiction. Others have condemned him as a pervert who just wanted to expose himself to “invisible children”. Then there are others who have called into question Russell’s sexuality, and I’ve been wondering, how does that affect the content of the film? How does that affect the aim of the campaign? What are we against? The film? The campaign? The solution? Joseph Kony? Or Jason Russell? I categorically condemn these attacks on the young man’s character. By all accounts, what occurred was a mental breakdown; there is no evidence to support the claims being made that Mr. Russell has stolen the money to support any addiction, alcohol or otherwise. In fact, according to the statement given by his family, Russell has no history of substance abuse. It is not acceptable to attack him personally because we object to the film he has produced, especially without evidence.
If we wish to argue with the content and intention of his work, that is fine. My objection to the campaign is premised on the concern that it advocates for sending U.S. troops into a foreign country, I am never in support of that kind of unilateral action. Further, I am concerned that the campaign isn’t directed at the President of Sudan and other war criminals like Kony, there are countless numbers of them on the African continent. I am also uncomfortable that so many in Jamaica have joined this campaign while we ignore the serious crimes perpetuated against our own people by the state and it’s agents and by dons who rule as war criminals, every bit as evil as Joseph Kony. However, I cannot support the personal attacks on Jason Russel. It appears to me that we are using his unfortunate personal experience to dismiss the film and tear him down in the process. That is wrong. There are numerous factors that could have led to what the world saw of Mr. Russel on the streets of San Diego. Based on that video, it is clear he was not in his right mind, the evidence points to a severe mental break down, brought on by exhaustion and dehydration. Why would we seek to say otherwise? What is the aim of that?
The campaign, at least on the surface, is for a good cause – I just require a different solution to stopping Kony. If we have a concern, let it be with the film and it’s motive, let us not tear down a man who is already down. The pressure very well might have gotten to him and he cracked. Let us not exploit an unfortunate situation to support or personal bias against the film and the campaign to stop Kony. Otherwise, are we any different? Or are we just frauds, using a man’s personal tragedy to gain mileage? Think about it.