EARLIER TODAY, the San Diego Police Department reported that Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell was detained in Pacific Beach on March 15th for “being drunk in public and masturbating.” Invisible Children is responsible for Kony 2012, a campaign that attempts to raise awareness about Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA. Their video has gone viral in the last few weeks, and we covered some of the criticism it has received.
Critics have debated over the founders’ salaries and their business ethics, as well as the legitimacy of the information presented in the video itself. In a statement released today, Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey implies that this scrutiny might be the reason for Russell’s incident.
“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”
The debates over Kony 2012 have been intense, and in my opinion, necessary, considering the reaction some Ugandans have had to the video. I’m already envisioning the way the ongoing Kony war on Tumblr will go – opponents claiming his actions undermine his and his organizations’ credibility, defenders arguing that Russell cracked under unfair public scrutiny, and conspiracy theorists wondering whether this is all just a stunt designed to get even more media attention.
The latter has even more fuel for their fire thanks to the above “official Invisible Children” vid from 2006, which has supposedly been pulled from their YouTube account and plays like some sort of hybrid Thriller-Grease acid trip. Are these guys for real, or have we just been punked?
Either way, this activist ‘viral campaign’ has degenerated to E!-worthy entertainment.