Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Column: Film and TV

Kony 2012: The film of the year and why

by Imogen , December 12, 20124 Comments

Kony 2012 is the film of the year in the same way that Nancy Gibbs, writing in Time magazine in 1999, argued that Hitler was the person of the century. It is by no means the best film released in 2012, but more than any other film this year it provided a brutally accurate gauge of our current ideologico-aesthetic climate.

Purportedly a social experiment to encourage young social media-literate people to ‘do something’ about the plight of child soldiers in Uganda, Kony 2012 was endlessly re-blogged and shared when it first appeared online in March but is now considered an embarrassing event we’d probably like to forget.

We now have a better idea of the utter corruptness of the forces behind Kony 2012 – the shady financial record of Invisible Children, the charity that produced the film; their support for the Ugandan government, itself guilty of serious human rights abuses; their advocacy for US military intervention in Uganda; the employment by US private security forces of former Ugandan child soldiers to fight as mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan; US concern over China’s growing economic influence in Uganda. But it shouldn’t be forgotten just how effective the film was in seducing us with its canny manipulation of youth culture, the drive for a global community, child-like whimsy and Apple Inc. utopianism.

This is basically the story of 2012 – the exploitation of liberal sentiment by forces of capital. The queer punk filmmaker Bruce LaBruce wrote an amusing article recently for VICE entitled ‘Beware the Bieber’ in which he argued that Justin Bieber functions as a deceptive and fuzzy icon, perpetuating the myth of Canada as a liberal utopia when in actual fact it is an imperialist force with one of the worst environmental records of developed countries, and with a demonstrated hostility towards immigrants. (Though really, Bieber, as far as the role he plays in LaBruce’s argument, is easily interchangeable with Arcade Fire, Seth Rogen, Broken Social Scene or anything else that gives us the impression of Canada as a country of laid-back peaceniks.)

This same kind of story played out in Australian politics when a video of Julia Gillard berating Tony Abbott went viral, making Gillard a kind of feminist hero when on the same day she cut welfare payments for low-income single mothers.

The Gillard story played out after the US elections when Twitter collectively cooed over a photo posted from Barack Obama’s account of the President hugging his wife. The Administration of this guy—Nobel Prize-winning President no less—would nevertheless stand firm behind Israel as it brutally bombed the people of Gaza.

The story played out with Melbourne Music Week, a 3-year-old initiative designed to demonstrate the State government’s support for Melbourne’s music scene, when in fact nothing substantial has been done to address the damaging liquor licensing laws that prompted the monumental SLAM rally in 2010 and funding to the contemporary music sector has been severely slashed. The government has conceded nothing in the way of structural support for our music culture, hoping that the city would content itself with an ephemeral carnival.

Some may accuse this argument of being too cynical. Isn’t raising awareness about child soldiers in Uganda a good thing? Isn’t celebrating a woman standing up to an unashamed sexist man a good thing? Isn’t Barack Obama a better choice than Romney? Isn’t Melbourne Music Week a chance to highlight genuinely talented and passionate people? The answer is yes to all this, but when all this is given with the left hand by players who take much, much more with the right, we should not lose our critical faculties.

The problem is not of whether to be cynical or not but that we are all too cynical in the wrong places. We’re cynical about the Occupy movement. We’re cynical about Palestine. We say things like, ‘Both parties are partly to blame so I can’t take sides.’ It seems the only time we feel comfortable taking sides is when the party in question has enough money to hire a graphic designer to hand-craft a whimsical font for its website and a musical supervisor to curate some cool, indie (and hopefully Canadian) bands to accompany the uplifting message in their awareness videos. Today we find ourselves living in a slow food, TED Talks, Steadicam, lo-fi, faux-fi, prosumer, hand-knitted, gluten-free world. Today, we find ourselves living in the year of Kony 2012.

Brad Nguyen (@bradnguyen) is a Killings columnist. He is a Melbourne-based writer, and editor of the film criticism website Screen Machine (www.screenmachine.tv).




  • http://discombobula.blogspot.com Sue

    Berwilliant!

  • Richard Watts

    Actually, Melbourne Music Week is a City of Melbourne initiative, not an event presented by the Victorian State Government – so linking it to the State Govt’s lack of support for the local music industry is a bit of a furphy.

  • Brad N

    True, Richard. But don’t get me started on Robert Doyle and the City of Melbourne!

    Still, the point that I think still holds is that these kind of once-a-year extravaganzas with their big-budget, pop-up venues and bourgeois foodie cross-promotions have little to do with what makes Melbourne’s music culture so strong.

  • https://www.facebook.com/GETYOURSEXFORFREE?ref=hl ian summerfield

    Kony was good in those Naked Gun movies.

Frances Abbott

David Donaldson

Why #whitehousegate matters

A few days after the release of the budget, in which the Coalition government announced it was spreading the burden by increasing university fees, cutting school funding, and cutting welfare for young people comes a story that confirms what many already suspect to be the nature of opportunity: it’s much easier to come by if you’re born into privilege. Read more »

money

David Donaldson

When does lobbying become corruption?

Whether it’s Clive Palmer buying his way into parliament, the recent, varied ICAC revelations of dodgy fundraising in the NSW Liberal party, or the refusal or inability of successive governments to effectively tackle powerful corporate interests in industries like gambling, mining, media, and junk food, there is a feeling among many Australians that democracy is up for sale. Read more »

cluster munition

David Donaldson

How to make treaties and influence people

In an era when Russia can annex Ukrainian territory, when the Refugee Convention is regularly flouted, and when nobody seems to be able to do anything to stop the carnage in Syria, it can be tempting to ask: what can international law actually achieve? Read more »

1560682_10153899026420591_499501666_n

Eli Glasman

Just a number: The literary world’s obsession with age

I used to be obsessed about what age I would be when I had my first novel published. I’d go on the Wikipedia pages of every famous writer I could think of to check how old they were when their first book came out. Read more »

winterson

Carody Culver

Jeanette Winterson’s sacred and secular space

It seems that people either love her or hate Jeanette Winterson, and sometimes that has less to do with her writing and more to do with the occasional controversies she’s regularly sparked since 1985. Read more »

Untitled

Veronica Sullivan

Adventures in reality with Oliver Mol

One of Mol’s recent pieces contains the line: ‘I want to put my bare ass on the cover of my book because not only will it make good promo but it speaks honestly about who I am.’ Read more »

The Tunnel TV review

Julia Tulloh

The Tunnel vs The Bridge: The ethics of TV remakes

A body is found in the Eurotunnel, neatly laid across the border between France and England. When police attempt to move the body, it splits in two with the top half in France and lower half in England. Read more »

1398878478_lea-michele-brunette-ambition-zoom

Julia Tulloh

How to be beautiful, according to Lea Michele

Lea Michele’s new book, Brunette Ambition, is what you might expect from a fairly young television and musical theatre star. Read more »

Mariah Carey

Julia Tulloh

Is she Mariah, the ‘elusive’ chanteuse?

Two weeks ago, Mariah Carey launched her fourteenth studio album, Me. I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Yes, that’s the real name, and it’s hilarious not only because the title is so long and happily shameless but because Mariah has long styled herself as one of the least elusive pop stars in the pop music galaxy. Read more »

lead_large

Rochelle Siemienowicz

On Boyhood, parenting and the passing of time

Since its premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival, film critics have been falling over themselves to lavish love upon Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Read more »

wetlands_poster

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Lucky Dip Diving: an approach to film festivals

I wanted to let go of the grasping desire to watch everything and be part of every conversation. But with the Melbourne International Film Festival in full swing, anxieties arise again. Read more »

Happy Christmas

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Joe Swanberg’s Real Women

In Happy Christmas, the female characters are a pleasure to watch, largely because they’re so familiar in life and so rarely depicted on screen. Read more »

hbo-silicon-valley

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Silicon Valley will eat itself

At a certain point in the lifespan of any subculture, fiction and reality start to blur. Members of the subculture begin to model their character and appearance on the idealised representations of themselves they read about or see on screen. Read more »

inbox

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Death to the Inbox

The primary source of our ‘email problem’ seems to lie in our belief that email is a vastly richer and more capable medium than it is. Read more »

5881861191_90de8b5bc9

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Making trolls eat their words

If we’re not conscious of a troll’s desired response, we risk inadvertently encouraging further trolling by allowing ourselves to be played. Read more »

detail

Danielle Binks

Fan-Girling Over Super Heroines

The testosterone-fuelled BIFF! BANG! KAPOW! of classic comics can seem uninviting, filled with spandex-clad men and swooning damsels who hold limited appeal outside the stereotypical 18-35 year-old male demographic. But things are changing in the world of comics. Read more »

9780143305323

Danielle Binks

Australia Needs Diverse Books

The ‘We Need Diverse Books’ team is made up of authors, editors and publishers from North America, but the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and campaign has reverberated in youth literature communities worldwide. Read more »

tumblr_inline_n6wz16ohb91r8e10g

Danielle Binks

YA is the New Black

Apparently those of us who do read and enjoy youth literature should be ‘embarrassed’. At least that’s what Ruth Graham said in her recent clickbait article for Slate, ‘Against YA’. Read more »

Jabberwocky1

Chad Parkhill

The carnival is over

Jabberwocky, scheduled to take place last weekend, was the kind of festival that wasn’t supposed to fail. Read more »

Robin Thicke

Chad Parkhill

Why has Robin Thicke’s Paula flopped?

What, exactly, has caused Paula to sell so poorly that it has already positioned itself as this year’s most memorable flop? Read more »

splash

Chad Parkhill

Queering the Power: The Soft Pink Truth’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?

The Soft Pink Truth’s new album ‘Why Do the Heathen Rage’ demonstrates that despite their superficial differences, dance music and black metal have a lot in common. Read more »

2014-07-03-theleftovers

Stephanie Van Schilt

TV pilots: The good, the bad and The Leftovers

With the wealth of shows on offer, committing to a new TV series can feel like a big deal. It’s often during a pilot episode that audiences determine whether the program is appealing enough to stick with for the long haul. Read more »

Alg-90210-jpg

Stephanie Van Schilt

Sick-Person TV

The only upside to getting sick was the many afternoons I spent curled up on the couch at home, watching daytime TV. I inhaled the drama of pre-recorded episodes of Beverley Hills 90210 while playing with my Brandon and Dylan sticker collection (interspersed with sporadic vomiting). Read more »

The_Million_Dollar_Drop_logo

Nicholas J Johnson

Highbrow vs Lowbrow: Nicholas J Johnson defends Lowbrow TV

I can’t stop looking at Eddie McGuire’s smug, stupid face. It’s not my fault. It’s just I’ve never been this close to the man before, and it’s not until now that I’ve realised how oddly smooth and tanned his skin is. As if someone has stretched the orange bladder from a football over a slab of marble. Read more »