Anti-Kony campaign in turmoil after filmmaker's breakdown

Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:23pm EDT
 

By Mary Slosson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The public meltdown of the man behind the viral "Kony 2012" video has thrown his campaign into turmoil even as the film succeeded in turning the world's attention to capturing an elusive and brutal Ugandan warlord.

Jason Russell, whose 30-minute video sensation shone a spotlight on Joseph Kony's use of child soldiers in Uganda, was taken by police to a hospital in California last week after suffering what doctors described as a brief psychotic breakdown.

Videos posted online showed him pacing back and forth on the sidewalk, naked, in broad daylight, in an incident certain to raise questions over the viability of Russell's Invisible Children group.

"You always hear people say, 'I'm so stressed out, I'm about to go crazy,'" said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "Still, the story of all this happening and then he literally is wigging out is very odd."

He said the episode could serve to divert attention from the warlord to Russell. "Now whenever you see a Kony story, it's about the guy, not Kony."

Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for two decades, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves and is said to like hacking off limbs.

Russell's wife, Danica, has said her husband would remain under hospital care for a number of weeks, and might not be able to return fully to his work at Invisible Children for months.

In downtown San Diego, Invisible Children's office has been locked up.   Continued...

 
Jason Russell, co-founder of non-profit Invisible Children and director of "Kony 2012" viral video campaign, poses in New York, March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid