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May 5, 2024

A short documentary that arguably changed the media landscape forever, KONY 2012 became a viral international sensation due in part to its evangelical tone, inspiring everyday people to gain a quasi-religious awareness of the “original sin” of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony who could be defeated through the power of collective consciousness.  It’s no surprise that the mastermind behind the KONY 2012 documentary, Jason Russell (founder of Invisible Children) is a devout Christian who grew up in a family dedicated to Christian ministry through youth theater, although Russell intentionally chose not to broadcast his religious views in order to make the KONY 2012 movement palatable to as broad of an audience as possible. Still, the documentary, which at the time of its release was a media phenomenon and the most “liked” video ever on YouTube, shows strong evidence of Christian influence. The video argues that the belief of a group of people creates a tangible psychic force with the ability to affect world events, and it promotes the hypothetical arrest of Joseph Kony as a cathartic cleansing event that will lead to global harmony. KONY 2012 even contains a Millerite rapture-esque ritual in its “Cover the Night” happening, meant to take place on April 20, 2012, when the anti-Kony faithful would blanket their entire city in Kony propaganda overnight so that sleepers folk would awaken the next day to a completely new world of full Awareness. Unfortunately, the evil Joseph Kony was not arrested and is still at large to this day, but Jason Russell’s movement left a noticeable impact on society at the very least by creating an internet video with full cultural penetration, something that is basically impossible to do nowadays in the ever-expanding universe of social media. The larger-than-life success of KONY 2012 also impacted Jason Russell’s life when he suffered a public mental breakdown weeks after the video’s release and was arrested for stripping naked and ranting on a public street, an event that was captured on video by phone cameras and disseminated through the same internet channels that Russell had used to spread his gospel in the first place. Many humans throughout history who encountered the divine dealt with issues that we now recognize with contemporary scientific framing as possibly being “manic episodes”; Joan of Arc is just one example. It’s possible that Jason Russell’s public struggles are simply another piece of evidence that KONY 2012 is the work of a modern-day prophet.

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