KONY 2012 may have been the fastest growing grassroots campaign in history. But if there's a price for fame, and filmmaker Jason Russell is paying big time. The guy behind the wildly successful Invisible Children campaign was caught -- naked -- on video in a full public meltdown in San Diego yesterday that required police to cart him off to a mental facility.
Police told TMZ they have Russell on a 5150 psychiatric hold to decide if the allegations from neighbors that he was naked, pounding his fists on the pavement, and possibly masturbating out on the public street mean he represents a danger to himself and society. Only time will tell. But there's an even bigger question at hand, folks: will this breakdown kill Kony 2012?
If you've perhaps been living under a rock -- or maybe you were celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a month of living in a drunken stupor instead of waiting for today -- you may have missed video of children forced into slavery by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. And if you missed that, you're sure to have bypassed the controversy over the plan to take down Kony's Lord's Resistance Army with the sale of Invisible Children "kits" and other KONY paraphernalia.
For every person ponying up the cash, there was at least another American pondering if Russell's moving 29-minute video and campaign were well-meaning but likely ineffectual or -- worse -- an elaborate scam meant to milk us out of our hard-earned money. Russell thought the backlash was serious enough to show up on the round of news shows earlier this week to respond to the criticisms, and he sounded pretty convincing.
And then this happened. Just look at this video, supposedly of Russell, mid-meltdown. Beware, he is naked so it is not totally safe for work (or kids):
That is the guy we should send our money to? That is the guy whose word we were supposed to take that this whole thing is going to work?
The folks at Invisible Children want us to believe that the extreme popularity of their video and the intense media pressure over the past few weeks were just too hard for Russell to take. Suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and dehydration, the guy on the video is the filmmaker in body only, they say.
I don't mean to denigrate their claims, and I have nothing but respect for people who suffer from some sort of mental disease. But the fact is, four days before this, Jason Russell represented himself as a "voice of reason" who we should listen to and trust. It behooved him to prove that he wasn't all talk, to ensure that everything he did was above reproach.
We are talking about people's hard-earned money. In a recession! We're talking about a global movement, and some major trust. And if that means Jason Russell making sure he eats his Wheaties every morning or whatever he had to do to keep his head on straight, gosh darnit, I'm sorry, but he should have. He took on this project. That was his choice. And he should know that being the public face of this movement held certain responsibilities.
If Jason Russell can't take care to ensure he doesn't end up on the public streets butt nekkid scaring kids, can we really trust him with something as major as Invisible Children ... and our money? I hate to say it, because I do think this campaign has some merit to it, but I worry that KONY 2012 could die out if the other folks at Invisible Children do not think fast -- faster even than their meteoric rise to fame.
Check out Russell in better days -- earlier this week, and tell us, what do you think this will do to the KONY movement?