A heady mix: fundamentalist Christianity, obvious charisma/unshakeable belief in own smarm, massive overnight celebrity, the mental illness of believing yourself to be the messiah of the third installment of the Whiteman’s Burden Trilogy – ‘this time it’s post-fucking-postcolonial.’ The type of mix that might, you know, lead to shouting incoherent abuse at traffic and masturbating in the general direction of said traffic. I can identify with the latter as a response to the world, if not the film itself. Kony 2012 is by now a well trodden-in shitstorm. I won’t smear it round much further here. Plenty of people have pointed out the films pungently odiferous inaccuracies and hypocrisies. Disgusting it is, no doubt. The fuckcuntingly awful ‘Fanon’ sticker on his megaphone being a personal, if petty, grievance. Surely even a passing understanding of Fanon’s thought would have made the thought of making this film unthinkable.
Yet there is something here. Something that has been occluded by the vehement critical decimation of the film and its associated project. A new wrinkle. After all, who would of thought that the most watched viral of all time would be 30 minutes of NGO messianic misery porn rather than 30 seconds of a kitten trying to fuck a tennis ball. Not me, certainly. I don’t wont to suggest that the critics are wrong, the most reliable of these being the Ugandans who kicked off in disgust after a public screening of the film. Instead of re-flogging these arguments, the slightly counter-intuitive question I want to ask here is: but is it all bad? Is the form, the type of strategy deployed here, as deplorable as the content? Is there something that might be of use to those that carry on the patient work of bringing about revolution proper? To those who grow impatient of that patient work?
If Jason Russell’s kid, who stars in the film, follows in his father’s footsteps, he may in fact be the antichrist who will bathe the earth in fire. Fingers crossed. Yet the film may also suggest the contours of a strategy for a more secular type of transformation, if not as final. Probable apocalyptic prophecy is inscribed in the film throughout: charity fascism; the aesthetisisation of the political to the point of street team marketing; celebrity as the answer to good and evil; Facebook’s conjoined, condescending, bleeding and bleating heart donning a wristband that keeps the official count of the blessed and the cursed in Like-clicks. Yet it would be hard to argue that it wasn’t a clever, effective, well made piece of propaganda. Manipulative, yes, but that is sort of the point, isn’t it? If, instead of attempting to make Kony the Anti-Oprah, or bringing about a full scale-invasion of Uganda, the film had attempted to get people to demand that George Bush should be tried/executed for war crimes, would it have been such a bad thing? Would it have still worked without having recourse to the media imagined tropes of Africa-as-ultimate-charity-case, so deftly deployed within the film? Is the shallowness of the film’s analysis and the type of political action it encourages completely incompatible with mobilisng people in more sustained and critically engaged ways? Could the army of digital device wielding, western children the film pitches to, and against Kony, not be encouraged to focus on more local concerns. Like blowing up parliament, for example.
The higher-level synthesis of Kony and Russell’s respective child armies is surely children in the global north arming themselves of their own free will and hunting down homegrown war criminals. On second thoughts, by the negative dialectical powers vested in me by jazz critic Teddy Adorno, it might be best to leave the two terms in unresolved tension for the moment.
Class war is war like any other, and, as such requires propaganda. So why is – whatever the chimerical fruit salad that is supposedly signified by – ‘the left’ so shit when it comes to making this sort of stuff. Why can’t we have glossy videos with snazzy graphics portraying David Cameron as a murderous villain for whom the guillotine is too swift, too merciful. Or, explaining to five year olds that when pallid, chinless people on the television talk about ‘lazy scroungers’, they actually mean ‘people we keep poor to make them and others more vulnerable to exploitation.’ Fuck, tell them Milliband molested the Easter Bunny, Theresa May tortures the Tooth Fairy to get loose change. They will be indoctrinated regardless, it might as well include something practical. At least tell them that Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories are a single party known as the Party of Order, pretending to be on different teams to trick people into accepting totalitarian rule of the rich over the poor. Use sock puppets if needs be.
There have been a few ok attempts by the left to make viral videos. The ‘Andrew Lansley, Tosser!’ video, for example, was short, humorous and informative and gave the issue of Lansley’s problem-masturbation high profile, making it more difficult for the Tories to sell the NHS to their friends. The video, funded by a union, is well made and MC Nxtgen is a talented guy. The following bars are admittedly slightly clunky, and can’t have been easy to rap, but condense more accurate information into a few lines than the whole 30 minute Kony movie:
He’s been given cash
by John Nash,
chairman of Care UK:
a private healthcare provider,
who, if they have their way,
will be the biggest beneficiaries
of conservative Lib Dem policies
to privatise healthcare and pull apart the welfare state.
The video has had half a million views and, as mentioned, was quite successful in solidifying antagonism towards Lansley and his flailing attempt to gut the NHS. Despite this there hasn’t been much of an attempt to replicate this success, or indeed to push it further. Levis, on the other hand, were quick off the mark with multimillion pound gloss to make sure you knew that they thought it was cool and sexy when people stole their jeans. Even their add was banned, fucking outlaws. Probably feels a little unfair to the kid who got time for trying to organise a riot on Facebook that only himself and the police turned up to. Anyway, isn’t the left supposedly filled with musicians, filmmakers, and writers. Is this a simply a myth? Are we all just a bit shit? I don’t think so. I think it has more to do with the suffocating smug of the moral high ground. Nothing good has ever come from do-gooders, and it is far too far to fall for my liking. We need instead to take the moral low ground, tell some good honest lies. Lies that get at the truth. David Willets may in fact be a paedo vampire. Lets just say that he is until someone manages to get a stake through his heart.