Monday, November 26, 2012

Kony 2012 as Viral (and (Strategically)) Pop

Two Points:

0. Viral Engagement kept referring to Rick Perry as the Governor of Florida. As a Texan, I wish he were the Governor of Florida, but he's the Governor of Texas. Yeehaw. It's too bad though, because try as I might not to be so nitpicky, this undermined the article's credibility in my admittedly hypercritical eyes.

1. At first I was annoyed with how the Viral Engagement article measured Kony 2012's ascendance to YouTube glory versus the likes of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. I understand that these are the most conceptually convenient, with all of them being YouTube videos and thus species of the same genus, but disliked the idea of such a pivotal piece of citizen journalism being relegated to comparisons to (and thus groupings with) pop culture. Why not bolder attempts at comparing it as a world media event to...[herein lies my problem. September 11th is too huge a spectacle. Other Africa-focused or anti-war-focused civic society efforts may not be as recognized. All move through different media/mediums, and all would require more space than Viral Engagements and distract from the article's topic.]
...I really just wished they would acknowledge the implications of comparing Kony to Biebs...even as Jason explicitly looked to tie Kony to such celebrities, by communicating through them and thus using them as one channel for change.

2. Then I watched Kony 2012 (yes, for the first time), and suddenly felt a lot less indignant about the last point. This whole new form of righteousness took over: Gavin was cute but his role in the...piece? (not film, not clip)...was infuriating. I found it appalling that his blowing up some lady's butt in the grocery store (through his handy filmmaking app) got as much airtime as emphasizing the humanity and dreams of Ugandan kiddos, and felt like pairing Gavin's dreams could have been a nicer solidarity-builder. Pairing Gavin's well-trained answers re: what to do with Kony with the head of the ICC's, on the other hand, struck me as terribly demeaning. Villainizing the bodies that stand to help you most (if you can get on their agenda and get their resources mobilized, etc) is always an interesting strategy.
(There are some hilariously terrible memes if you GoogleImage "bite the hand that feeds you meme.")

Luckily I really liked Fassin. I've long struggled with weighing language between accessibility and precision, and thus deeply appreciated his talk of "critical sociology versus the sociology of criticism" / of advancing critical theory amongst an elite crowd versus of translating said crowd's gains for the masses. I also liked how he played between language as a creative versus reflective force in defining realities (especially in terms of grasping "the movement whereby language imposes a reality and at the same time the real resists the language. [in the political sphere]”.) He does a lot of grasping. I should have used more varied structured sentences, and should be more critical of Didi(er Fassin), but it took me multiple readings/days just to understand him, so I'm still in the honeymoon/appreciative stage.

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