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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Jennifer Barish at 5:26PM   |  4 comments

Blog posting written by Jennifer Barish, Communication Management & Design ‘14, FLEFF intern, Skokie, IL

Okay. I need to talk about this. I need to get it off my chest. I'm already sick of this topic, but as a staff member at one of the most influential, international film festivals in the world studying communication at a college known for progressive ideologies, I need to put some words on the page. I won’t even edit.

For the last 72 hours, KONY 2012 has dominated my newsfeed, and during this time my emotions have gone from dewy-eyed sympathy to vehement anger.

They got me. The movie had catchy tunes and I “awwwwed” at the adorable white toddler on the screen. After the 30 minute film, I was ready to order my “action kit,” stamp my status with a seal of approval, and lobby in Washington D.C.

 I’m an impulsive person, so this amount of zeal within such a small time frame is dangerous. But I fought the urge. And read. I researched. I questioned. It turns out that the emphatic idealism brought on by this brilliant public relations campaign was just a wee bit oversimplified.

 I’m still trying to figure out what I believe, how I feel about American intervention, and the co-existence between innovative communication strategies and the non-profit sector. I’m sad, angry, annoyed, pissed off, and utterly confused.

But there’s one thing I’m sure about. The use of film in the KONY 2012 campaign is the driving force behind the campaign. Social media and promotional events are incredibly strategic, but they’re just means to show off the crowned jewel of KONY 2012—the flashy drama-mentary produced by Invisible Children.

Now, I can genuinely say that film is the most powerful art form. I apologize in advance to the brilliant visual artists or musicians out there, but this movie has created an international debate—a social revolution that out-organizes, out-markets, and out-flashifies the efforts of the Occupy Movement or other modern, activist endeavors. 

In terms of getting people to talk, I’m committed to films for life.

Whether you’re among the millions of KONY 2012 followers or an angsty cynic, at least we’ve all stopped looking at cat memes online and started to think—well, at least for 72 hours.



I can't help but agree with you in how torn I am over the ideologies about how this mission is being executed, and it's interesting to think about how this conflict has been going on for so long, but only recently has it erupted with so much controversy and activity.

Despite the longevity of the issue, it's true that people are talking about it nonetheless and the power of film has influenced this explosion. I think your comments are great and I definitely agree with you.

I especially loved your closing line. I'm wondering how long it will be until we see completely inappropriate and tacky Invisible Children memes online.

Thank you for your comments Andrew! It's really a messy topic. But I couldn't ignore it. Film is so incredibly powerful, so it's a tool that we have to be careful with.

I appreciate you taking the time to do this write up, Jennifer. I think you're right that "KONY 2012" is a key contemporary example of social-and-media activism bringing attention to an issue ignored by the mainstream media.

I also appreciate that you tried to focus on the power of art and your own conflicted emotions and ideas over the situation as opposed to placing yourself on either side of the, if we can call it a, debate.

However, I do think some of your wording betrays and otherwise balanced blog post.

Calling critics of the KONY 2012 film and campaign 'angsty cynics' is reductionist at best and implicitly jingoistic at worst.

I think it's important to re-emphasize, as you note in your blog, that critics of KONY 2012 are not merely pessimists taking pleasure in the 'false hopes' of young activists; they themselves are activists with fully articulated stances on the situation, employing social media to stop a use of time and resources that they think is unwarranted, unethical, and ultimately counterproductive.

Good point, Ian. My word choice does bring about a certain derogatory tone towards cynics. Maybe this strong word choice is in response to those who blindly criticize the campaign without a more intellectual analysis. Some people like to be a cynic for the hell of it. They think its cool to be contrary and this really annoys me.

The time and energy spent on this campaign may be an "unproductive" use of time but I think it sets an example for other people trying to do big things and start the conversation. Check out the new video produces for the Obama campaign "The Road We've Traveled." It is powerful, informative, a little bit corny, but still captivating and meaningful.

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