Invisible Children’s (IC) Kony 2012 is the poster child of nonprofit video storytelling. It got attention (50 million YouTube views in the first week of release) and generated some level of understanding of the atrocities of Joseph Kony, the Ugandan rebel leader, and his LRA army.
Although the video will be remembered forever as a way to scale awareness at the speed of light by going viral, it also highlighted the challenges of visual storytelling. Kony 2012 generated widespread skepticism for its simplification of a complex situation, the infeasibility of the proposed solution, and the sensationalism of its storytelling. That, followed by the public and extreme breakdown of Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell, raised a lot of eyebrows.