Addressing criticism over the slickness and imprecision of last week's "Kony 2012" video, CEO of Invisible Children Ben Keesey donned an earnest charcoal suit and talked to a camera for eight and half minutes about how his NGO isn't nearly as nefarious, careless, or unwittingly harmful as everyone seems to believe. Nobody associated with Invisible Children is in it for the money, assures Keesey, least of all him — he turned down a cushy job at a big accounting firm after he graduated from UCLA because he was so "deeply moved" by the low-production value of an earlier Invisible Children video that he just had to join in the fight to defeat Joseph Kony's fading Lord's Resistance Army.
If you can bear the self-satisfied cadence of Ben Keesey's voice, watch the video to get a better sense of how Invisible Children deploys its resources to conduct a "very intentional strategic campaign." The phrase "very intentional" may come back to haunt Keesey if, as scrutiny of his organizations increases, any of these claims are disproved. Also troubling about the intentionality of Invisible Children's work? Keesey doesn't address reports that the organization has received funding from antigay creationist groups. Here, however, are some critiques that Keesey does deign to answer:
As for accusations that Invisible Children is a "slacktivist" campaign composed of dilettantes who became human rights experts during their semester abroad programs...
I understand why people are wondering if this is just some slick, kind of fly-by-night slacktivist thing when actually it's not at all.... It's connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign.
On not understanding the cardinal rule about posting anything on the internet: never wallow in the comments...
It's been difficult to read some of the comments about Invisible Children.
On untangling some of Invisible Children's bramble bush of finances...
Here, predictably, is where Keesey starts to get a little vague. He says that, with regard to travel and transportation costs, "it is totally not true" that the management team uses its travel money to zip around the world on private jets and dune buggies. He explains that travel costs seem so high because Invisible Children believes in "face to face" impact, i.e. that people will be more likely to respond (positively) to a real, live person, hence the expenditures on Invisible Children's video-screening tour (with roadies and everything) of high schools and colleges around the world. Keesey also would like to direct our attention to $330,000 earmarked for "operational costs" that came from a private donor, and explains that this "is actually a good thing."
That's as close to he comes about discussing concerns that Invisible Children's money pipeline leads back to a not-so-very pleasant source, Christina fundamentalist grant-making organizations who some believe have strong ties to an Anti-Homosexuality (read: "kill the gays bill") Bill in Uganda.
Whatever calming effect Keesey's muted-toned video has on his critics, one thing is for sure: Invisible Children doesn't seem to be funneling that much into video production expenses anymore.