Introduction for Case Study Paper

Maybe it’s a Bad Fad:

Analyzing “Kony 2012” as a Cultural Text


Intro to Case Study Analysis


After receiving over one hundred million views on YouTube in the span of one month Invisible Children Inc.’s marketing efforts have undoubtedly made “Kony 2012” one of the most talked about topics of 2012 thus far. What is it about this production that has attracted so many people to it? The viral YouTube sensation “Kony 2012” has made media headlines around the world. The 29 minute piece about the Lords Resistance Army and more specifically, Joseph Kony, has brought about many questions regarding the producers and what the organization behind its production, “Kony 2012” is trying to accomplish. According to Invisible Children Inc., their mission is “to use film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war, and restore LRA-affected areas.” Their most recent melodrama has received numerous critiques, both negative and positive about their efforts of raising awareness and taking action in Central and Eastern Africa. Invisible Children Inc. has enabled and encouraged people to adopt this campaign as a part of their personal identity. This simplistic and thin documentary joins people from all over the world together by attacking the viewer’s emotions, creating an appeal to the viewer to immediately contribute to the organizations efforts of ridding Joseph Kony from the African continent.

Rhetorical modes of aestheticization and surveillance in this melodrama are used to create a pseudo understanding of what is occurring in Central and Eastern Africa. The campaign aestheticizes violence through the use of powerful music, social rhetoric, and by creating a focus on privileged youth who are from the west making a change for the social betterment of humankind through donating money and spreading awareness about Joseph Kony and the LRA. “Kony 2012” is attacking the viewer’s emotions, creating a distinct role for Generation Y to become more active, global citizens. Invisible Children Inc. unintentionally uses the rhetorical mode of surveillance to illustrate the global hierarchies in our “post-colonial” world. The video makes evident that there is a difference between people from the west and those individuals from “war torn Africa.” These rhetorical modes of aestheticization and surveillance have been taken from David Spurr’s, The Rhetoric of Empire. Spurr addresses the role of colonial discourse in the 21st century to create an understanding of how the meaning of a cultural text can be implicitly related to “colonizer” and “colonized” power structures. The aesthetics of “Kony 2012” have been enhanced by the middle-classes ability to observe situations from afar through technological innovations, etc… but at what cost? The campaign is playing on the emotions of pre-dominantly, uninformed, privileged people, making them supportive of a cause that they have never heard of. This has given Invisible Children Inc. the ability to create a ‘cultural text’ that plays with people’s emotions, and challenges the viewer’s identity and arguably their positionality. Spurr makes evident that every cultural text is symbolic of colonial discourse.


(more to come soon)

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