"Kony 2012": It's a 30-minute documentary that aims to shine a spotlight on central African militia leader Joseph Kony. In doing so, the film also points a spotlight directly at 20 celebrities, via social media, as a key leg of the Kony 2012 plan to make the guerrilla leader a household name.
"Celebrities, athletes and billionaires have a loud voice and what they talk about spreads instantly," filmmaker Jason Russell says in the video, which was launched Monday by the group Invisible Children and by Thursday afternoon was closing in on 39 million YouTube views.
As is made clear in the film, Kony and his militia are notorious for abducting children to fight as soldiers and suffer as sex slaves, and for mutilating their victims. Viewers of the video are urged around the 23-minute mark to contact 20 "culturemakers" and 12 "policymakers" to keep up pressure and raise awareness so that U.S. advisers remain in the region.
So who are the celebrities targeted in Kony 2012?
The stars and athletes (OK, just one athlete) are Ben Affleck, Justin Bieber, Bono, Stephen Colbert, George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay-Z, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Rush Limbaugh, Rihanna, Bill O’Reilly, Ryan Seacrest, Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, Rick Warren and Oprah Winfrey. And then there are the billionaires: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Bieber retweeted an Invisible Children message and then looped the link to the video to his 18 million-plus followers several times, saying, "it is time to make him known. Im calling on ALL MY FANS, FRIENDS, and FAMILY to come together and #STOPKONY."
Oprah referenced Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, saying, "Thanks tweeps for sending me info about ending #LRAviolence. I am aware. Have supported with $'s and voice and will not stop. #KONY2012."
Visitors to the Kony 2012 website can click on the images of the folks listed above, along with "policymakers" including former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and send a pre-written Twitter message either at the person clicked on, or invoking their name in connection with the cause. The website and video both ask for donations as well.
But the conversation was by no means limited to those on the 2012 list. Kim Kardashian retweeted a link from sister Kendall Jenner, adding "#Kony2012 Wow just watched! What a powerful video! Stop Kony!!!"
Other celebs joining in included Diddy, Alyssa Milano, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Russell Simmons and Don Cheadle, the last of whom urged his followers to make sure to consider all arguments critically before jumping into the fray.
"Assisting the Ugandan government and letting them ultimately resolve and solve their internal issues are not mutually exclusive acts," Cheadle tweeted Wednesday as part of a message he compiled on his blog. "We need to be wary of traditionally paternalistic attitudes toward other nations and make sure we are acting as 'helpers' not encroachers."
Kirstie Alley also got very vocal, noting that "Celebrities have big mouths and big audiences..it is our privilege and duty to inform people about atrocious injustices."
Before that, however, she made clear that she was pushing awareness, not fundraising. "I'm NOT telling you to donate MONEY to anyone !!! I'm asking you to support the movement to EXPOSE Kony..that's it!," she wrote, explaining further that "I don't donate money to organizations without extensive research...I've done the research on Kony himself, but that's as far as I've gotten."
Click here to watch the video.
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— Christie D'Zurilla
Christie D'Zurilla on Google+
Photo: Screen grab of 20 culturemakers from the Kony 2012 website. Credit: Kony2012.com