October 23, 2012

Invisible Children’s MOVE:DC Takes on Human Trafficking

Invisible Children
By Mikhail Bell

Released on October 7, Invisible Children’s (IC) new documentary “MOVE” attempts to set the record straight about co-founder Jason Russell’s public meltdown and what is really at stake if Joseph Kony is not captured before January 1, 2013. The new 31-minute documentary clarifies where IC went succeeded, where they erred, and what they are going to do on November 17.

MOVE’s predecessor, “Kony 2012”, resurfaced the international search for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony. The March 5 video trended on Twitter for days, lingered on Facebook for weeks, and engaged Americans in a conversation about intervening in a region that does directly align with our international grand strategy.

In short order it became the most viral video in YouTube history.

What started as a wave of support for the California-based non-profit quickly descended into a wave of anger, confusion, and misinformation against them. From Al-Jazeera to Red Eye media outlets voiced concern that was increasingly about Invisible Children’s legitimacy and less about persistent use of child soldiers in sub-Saharan Africa’s ongoing conflicts. Soon #Kony2012 and #StopKony became sharpened arrows that were pointed by their creators.

According to the LA Times, Russell’s parents run the Christian Youth Theater in California. An emergent church follower, Russell has openly discussed his faith.

Despite the faith of at least one of its founders, Invisible Children is not a faith-based organization.

“MOVE” leverages pessimism about Millennials, purportedly disaffected consumers of nothingness, in the same way that the filmmakers saw the press speak so poorly of Invisible Children, to mobilize their target demographic.

What Is Different?

First, the documentary shows meetings and unedited mini-interviews with IC staff during the dark days that followed the release of “Kony 2012″. It is clear that the viewer should be on Invisible Children’s side when the video ends. However this is because they are won you over with their honesty, not chicanery, a common criticism of “Kony 2012″.

Second, “MOVE” explains why action is needed in Central Africa and briefly covers the LRA’s location within the region. The takeaway: Joseph Kony is a malevolent warlord whose days are numbered. All viewers need to do is march on Washington to show elected officials their support for decisive action that will remove Kony from the battlefield.

Third, the video introduces more characters to a complex plot. Viewers meet IC’s social media lead Noelle Jouglet, who explains why “Kony 2012″ is more than just another social issue. Invisible Children CEO and Deloitte alumnus Ben Kessey, who joined Invisible Children in 2005. The non-profit also ditched little-known United Nations officials in favor of more relatable Ugandan narrators.

One of these individuals, Nobert Mao, President of Uganda’s Democratic Party, says “It woke up the world because the world has a tendency of forgetting, moving from one thing to another. So it was a wakeup call.”

What Is the Same?

Visual engagement has been central to Invisible Children’s DNA since its 2004 inception. Their other campaigns, such as Tri and Schools for Schools, effectively merge catchy music with clear calls to action.

“It worked. It got people talking about an issue. [If] we’d had academics giving a presentation on the LRA then 13 people would have watched it,” New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof said of Kony 2012.

“Move” follows the same paradigm calling on supporters to “hold world leaders accountable to their commitments to end LRA violence.” Like Kony 2012, “MOVE” is relying heavily on social media to reach 10 world leaders to participate in what it has dubbed a “Global Summit on the LRA”.

Invisible Children organized similar events, albeit under less controversial circumstances, in 2006 with the Global Night Commute and in 2010 with the Rescue.

Undoubtedly, Invisible Children’s “MOVE” will reignite a national conversation about slacktivism, Millennials, and U.S. foreign policy in Africa. On November 17, the promises and talk will culminate in thousands descending on Washington, DC’s Convention Center from across the country.

Why Is This Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking refers to an array of illegal activities that subjugate an individual’s will and violate his/her dignity. The Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 defines a child soldier as an individual “who is serving in any capacity, including in a support role such as a cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave.” As the definition notes, minors of both sexes are forcibly recruited into military service, where they are often placed on the front lines of regional conflict.

Similarly, the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report reveals that youth are vulnerable to more than enemy bullets. It notes: “male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases”.

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are recent cases of this type of human trafficking. Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge relied on child soldiers as well.

How do you think? Share your thoughts below and on Twitter using the hashtag #MOVEDC.

Here is the “MOVE” trailer:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpQN6fqdgR0]

Watch the full-length version here.


  • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

    Still on that Kony kick???, Wasn’t he a non-story by the time he was a story the first time?There seemed to be too much debate as to the timeliness and veracity of Invisible Children’s previous documentary to take them seriously.

    • http://theird.wordpress.com theird

      @Tom, thanks for your comment! The article is meant to: 1) draw attention to child soldiers as a form of human trafficking and 2) provide a space to continue a discussion which has started again with this new film release. Hopefully this clarifies the post’s intent.

      • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

        I appreciate that this is an attempt at a second chance for these people to bring awareness to an important cause. I also think that they should have handed the reins over to another organization with less controversial baggage.

  • http://matisse97.wordpress.com matisse97

    Reblogged this on Invisible Children.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith McDonnell

    The “controversial baggage” other than Jason’s breakdown, which was quite justifiable under the circumstances, did not belong to them. People who considered themselves armchair experts and had never done even a fraction of what the young people involved in Invisible Children have done somehow thought they were the voices of experience on the LRA and on Invisible Children. Young Americans and young people around the globe, who have been involved in the issue since the first Invisible Children movie actually know a lot more about the situation than the critics. The Kony 2012 film was directed at the young following who already know that Kony is more in CAR and DRC, as well as Equatoria, than in N. Uganda. That’s why the film didn’t spell it all out.

    • Lyla

      I wish you were right, but the critics have far more extensive knowledge and training on the situation. IC is promoting a campaign that is outdated and Ugandans (those who are not affiliated with IC) do not want it. It is morally wrong for IC to support Musevini who is regarded as a war criminal by Ugandans, yet Museveni is a friend to ICC as well as IC. The critics, myself included, are the ones who educated organizations like IC on what was happening in Sudan and other areas. Jason and his friends chose to do a media campaign and have consistently ignored advice from well established organizations in the area. IC has been under scrutiny for years by reputable organizations working in the area or with the cause. When the campaign went viral and asked for military intervention for an outdated problem, people of course confronted the organization; it would have been wrong not to! These critics have dedicatd their lives to these areas…….far more time than IC who has not been established in Uganda or other areas. Also, if IC followers truly knew what was happening in areas like Congo, Uganda, Sudan, you would know this campaign is not what they need since they have moved on. Because of Musevini’s crimes, the Ugandans are simply asking for a peaceful resolution so that this circle of rebels arising due to Musevini’s atrocities will cease. Asking for miitary intervention is going to make things worse. Please research Musevini’s past in Congo with Rwanda and you will see an agenda. Research the ICC and their agenda and how they have mentored IC and you will see an agenda. Read the reasons why African’s oppose this campaign. This isn’t about loyalty to IC, it is about loyalty to Ugandans, Congolese, and Sudanese. You and other IC supporters owe it to them to look thoroughly at the concerns so many humanitarians have over this campaign. Research also the peace talks that were suppose to take place, that Ugandans wanted, and how ICC and Musevini ruined them. I am not saying the LRA are right, I am just saying both sides are wicked and to support one (Musevini) that has oppressed people for years is wrong, especially since his atrocities will create more rebels. You know Musevini and other organizations used child soldiers, right? How can IC followers support this? Shouldn’t they all be confronted? Ask why IC cut out the Musevini part in their campaign early on…….it made it easier for them to get in Uganda and grow the media campaign. Is that right? Please, please, please research. There is too much at stake to be loyal to an organization. Again, you owe it to Ugandans to research the other side. All of the facts are available in the news.

  • Lyla

    You are right Tom!