Jason Russell, co-founder of non-profit Invisible Children and director of the now infamous "Kony 2012" viral video campaign, attempted to explain why his campaign is an easy solution to world peace, etc., in a number of interviews last night and this morning. His explanations are as overly simplistic as his mission, and his financial clarifications are contradictory.
On Today, Ann Curry asked Russell how he knew the Kony 2012 video wasn't an example of "slacktivism" — in other words, do 64 million views and counting necessarily transfer into direct aid to Ugandan Children? Russell responded by saying the over half a million action kits ordered — to the tune of $30 each — prove that people are "constantly demanding, asking, what are we doing now?"
"In math you don't start with calculus, or algebra. There's complicated issues in the world, we know that ... Kony's not. He's 1 plus 1. We can all agree with that. We can all agree, together, we're going to stop him."
So many action kits have been ordered, in fact, that the website now warns supporters who have ordered the propaganda that they might not receive anything until next month. Those new to the cause can download the printable content from the kit for free or "consider purchasing" another one of Invisible Children's products that, according to the website, will make people think "you're an advocate of awesome." (Maybe a $10 Kony bracelet, the "ultimate accessory"?)
So, let me get this straight. We know Kony 2012 is legit because so much money is rolling in. So then why did he tell Lawrence O'Donnell on The Last Word that it's not about the money at all? He said:
"It has been [lucrative], but that is not our intention. It's not about the money. Actually, our CEO and a couple others said, hey we have to have a fundraising component to this so we can garner some money. And I said no, that's not the intention of what we're doing. It's not about the money. It's about the awareness. That's it. So we have maxed out or limits. The store is now closed because we don't have enough merchandise to keep it going out. So everything is free now, it's free."
Hold up. His campaign isn't "slactivism" because the awareness translates into money, but the campaign isn't about the money, it's about awareness? It's misleading for Russell to imply the store is closed because it's not; you can still buy certain goods, and you can still donate. They just ran out of posters.
We've written about Invisible Children's dubious finances — and posted their infographic, which is almost laughably misleading — but the Guardian has a nice breakdown in case you need a reminder that Invisible Children is about the money: