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Kony and beyond: Could a video work for Syria activists? [Video]

March 15, 2012 |  4:30 am


If viral video can catapult notorious Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony onto Twitter trends, can it make more people care about the bloody, lengthy conflict in Syria?

A new video created by Syrian opposition activists is trying to do just that. Styled like a movie trailer with sweeping music and dramatic cuts, the activist video posted on YouTube on Wednesday splices amateur and news images of the uprising that has raged for a year.

If the video that zeroed in on Kony was criticized as being overly simplistic, the Syrian faux movie trailer is more so. Syrian President Bashar Assad is never mentioned.

Instead, the video focuses mainly on the killing and suffering of civilians. The video includes a SkyNews interview with wounded Sunday Times of London photographer Paul Conroy in his hospital bed, saying, "It's not a war. It's a massacre."

When the nonprofit Invisible Children launched Kony to Internet stardom with its video, pundits questioned why Syria hadn't attracted the same attention through online social networks. Riffing on that theme, comedian Jon Stewart aired a parody video of a talking dog explaining the Syrian crisis.

Foreign Policy magazine asked Al Jazeera social media head Riyaad Minty why Syria hadn't gone viral in the same way Kony did. It wrote that "grainy YouTube clips or dry accounts of dozens of people slaughtered in an anonymous city ... isn't favorable for attracting a wider audience."

"Syria isn't as personal, in terms of the narrative that is being presented," Minty told Foreign Policy. "There's a lot of death and destruction, but it just doesn't have that personal connection for people."

Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the uprising in Syria, estimated to have cost 8,000 lives. The United Nations has condemned rampant human rights abuses under the Assad regime and backed a plan that calls for the president to step down. Syria says it is defending itself against armed terrorists.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Video: An activist video about the Syrian conflict styled like a movie trailer. Credit: YouTube