Did Publicity Take Toll on “Kony 2012” Creator?

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March 21, 2012; Source: Los Angeles Times

Invisible Children filmmaker Jason Russell, who created the viral “Kony 2012” video, will remain in the hospital for several weeks for what his wife described as “reactive psychosis.” It is believed that “the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks” led to the erratic behavior he demonstrated late last week. The family is focused “not on a speedy recovery, but a thorough one.”

Russell’s “Kony 2012” video attracted international attention within days of its release on YouTube, receiving more than 84 million views to date. Its popularity and impact far surpassed expectations. The video also attracted quick and vocal criticism from several quarters, with challenges to the video’s accuracy and questions as to whether its portrayals reflect Kony’s current or past status and influence, among other criticisms which NPQ has previously noted. According to his family, Russell’s reactive psychosis is believed to be a reaction to the positive and negative publicity associated with both his film and a cause about which he is passionate.

Many nonprofits dream of receiving such immense publicity and passion for their causes and programs, but the reaction to “Kony 2012” thrust Jason Russell and Invisible Children into a whirlwind. How many nonprofits and their leaders are ready for sudden fame and scrutiny, even on a much more modest scale? –Michael Wyland