Kony 2012 Communication Theory Paper

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COMMUNCIATION THEORY

COMS 3901

RESEARCH ESSAY

FRIDAY 6TH JULY, 2012

In 2004, Invisible Children, a United States-based non-profit advocacy organization, was founded by filmmakers Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell. They adopted the mission of capturing Joseph Kony, an Ugandan warlord who commits war crimes in both northern Uganda and surrounding countries since the 1980s for the purpose of building his rebel force, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). On March 5th, 2012, they released a video titled KONY 2012 which told the story of abducted children in Northern Uganda, forced to become child soldiers and sex slaves and operate with the LRA. The campaign is aimed at capturing Joseph Kony by “making Kony famous” and it targets celebrities, movie stars, millionaires and politicians to help spread the campaign. They hope to stimulate action that will have Kony arrested and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The video was extensively shared over Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, blogs, and other social networking websites – in other words, it went viral. The video has received approximately 92 million views on YouTube and over 18 million views on Vimeo, both video-sharing websites on which users can upload, share and view videos, making this initiative one of the most effectively distributed advocacy campaigns of the last decade. This essay will take a cultural studies approach to utilize theoretical perspectives to critically analyse the text. In the beginning of the video, an image of a world is shown which connotes globalization and how everything is more accessible by everyone all over the world as they can use the internet and communicate more easily. This connects with the idea of McLuhan (1964) as he believed that we live in a “global village”. There are also several snapshot’s of the producer’s son which are taken from the point of view of the producer and could possibly allow audiences to emotionally attach themselves to the video and increase their involvement. The close up shots can also engage them into continuing to watch the text. The fact that this could appeal to the “global village” could relate to the growth of electronic media and its uses to spread news virally which can also be linked back to McLuhan. This video about the real life situation of Kony has many different types of techniques to engage the audience such as the voice over as it is telling the audience and interacting with the audience which is us. This can portray the dominant ideology of man who lives in a patriarchal society but the voice-over also deals with the idea of Americanisation as the man is American so it also portrays the idea of hegemonic values and this is brought forward as America is a dominant global supervisor which everyone is influenced by so this engages the audience to believe in the voice over as he is American. Another way it engages the audience is by showing the audience how fast social networking sites get news to travel. The KONY 2012 video was originally posted on Facebook and within a couple of days everyone was talking about it. This created awareness with the audience as the audience became aware that information is able to travel over the matter of days. One main thing that catches the audience’s eye is the countdown clock which shows that something is about to end and something is going to be destroyed at the end of the countdown. This can also be used to engage the audiences as they want to know what happen towards the end of the video. They also have titles in the video which can be used to catch the audience’s attention as the titles are very powerful such as, “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. This makes the audience want to know what they mean and what the detail is. Whatever play on emotions that campaigns can make, they will use because it often times will move people to act on their feelings. This can be seen in the KONY 2012 video where many...
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