USD panel dissects popularity of 'Kony 2012'

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SAN DIEGO -- Two viral videos featuring Invisible Children filmmaker Jason Russell were the topic of discussion Tuesday at University of San Diego.

One represents his life’s work, a video about Joseph Kony the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan guerrilla group.  The other video shows his life, unraveling.

“I think what it shows is the incredible pressure he is under,” said Jennifer Freeman with the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at University of San Diego.  “Whether or not people use that to reflect on Invisible Children as an organization or not is something we intend to look at on the panel today.”

The school held a panel discussion on how quickly the "Kony 2012" video went viral.

“We have some professors who are looking at different angles, everywhere from what the issues surrounding the video’s (Kony 2012) ethics are as well as just the power of social media these days and how it needs to be harnessed to promote social movement such as this,” said Freeman.

In addition to USD professors, the panel included a doctoral student who lived in Uganda for nine years and a freshman who spent time in Uganda and personally raised thousands of dollars for the Invisible Children Organization.

Although the primary focus of the discussion was on "Kony 2012", panelists acknowledged the scrutiny the organization was getting as a result of Russell’s very public meltdown on a busy street in San Diego.  He was caught on video naked, pacing and ranting on a street corner in the Crown Point area of San Diego.

“I still don’t think it detracts from it whatsoever.  I think Invisible Children has a good thing going for them and the Kony video is the most important aspect of it,” said USD freshman Nathan Phillips.  ”And I don’t think Jason Russell having a meltdown is important to it at all.”

“In some ways it might help,” said Nathaniel Dunigan, USD PhD student and founder of  “His cause was to bring attention to what’s going on in Uganda and that certainly has happened.”

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EducationInvisible Children, Inc.Kony 2012 (movie)Jason RussellUgandaJoseph Kony