I am schooled in Framing theory.
I recognise a frame when I see one.
The Stop Kony video is a frame, a construction of reality.
To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text (like the video), in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition (kony), causal interpretation (because people don’t know about Kony), moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation (see Jacob, we need to stop Kony and this is how…) for the item described (Entman, 1993).
Are frames bad? – There are many sides to the story. Do bear with me if at the end of this page, I have not helped you reach a conclusion.
I watched this video for the first time yesterday morning. Seeing Jacob cry over losing his brother did bring tears to my eyes, and in that moment if Kony were right before me, even the Lord won’t resist what I could have done to him (if I had super-hero-powers).
The truth is Kony has to be stopped – and so do a million other African Konys like Boko Haram, corrupt government officials carting away treasures off shore, leaving people to wallow in poverty – name them.
I have monitored reactions to this campaign and I must say I am not surprised at the mixed aroma emanating from it.
Reaction 1 – It’s a scam
According to this blog on Washington Post, a Foreign Affairs article,” pointedly challenged the tactics used by Invisible Children and other nonprofits working in the region to raise awareness. ‘Such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil’…”.
There are other accounts and cited sources on this WashPo article that buttress the point about how Invisible Children charity may not be the way forward. There is one take on SOCIAL MEDIA TACTICS AREN’T HELPING – really?
To me, scratch awareness and profile picture changes as a contribution to the cause, social media is generating money – yup $$ & ££! Where and how the money goes is another matter entirely, but one more argument about how new media is not making any impact, and i’ll… sealed lips.
Let’s move on.
Reaction 2 – White saves Africa, Again?
I picked this reaction off one of the earliest blogs I read about the issue yesterday. This fellow WordPressEr opines the problem to be that from the outset till date, “the goal was premised on a White desire to save downtrodden Africa regardless of facts. The movies are premised on the idea that: North American (White) attention will save Africa.”
He goes on to explain that the problem is even much bigger, as it feeds into the public perception of what Africa is – full of war, famine, rape and people that can’t help themselves.
To this author, the scenario falls into the trap of the belief that the problem is ignorance and the solution is education. I quote the blog below:
It’s also about history. White folk have for centuries built industries on saving Black people in Africa. In creating images (framing again) of what Africans look like, in order to justify saving them.
Question and Answer time.
Can Africa save itself? YES
Will it save itself? *scratches chin*
Can the West save Africa? NO
Can the West collaborate with Africa to save Africa? *scratches chin* But here is my response:
It’s a global village and no man is an island to himself. However, the fact that we need to be partners does not mean we have to be back-rubbing buddies (even if one can pose as one). It simply means I have an interest to protect and so do, so how can we have a marriage that works?
The West would attempt to save Africa to the extent to which her interests are protected, there is no osho-free (nigerian-english lingo for charity) – Gospel Truth.
The problems that occur with Western and African saving collaborations are corruption – on both sides I might add, because it takes 2 to tango, lack of proper definition of the problems and the top-down approach is administering aids.
If you really want to help, empower Africans to help themselves, to fight their battles the African-way.
When the West does something good for Africa, they have to blow the trumpet, you would too if it were you – they frame it to look good and it is usually good. The problem usually lies in the unsaid, neglected part of the story, and that is why it is a frame.
Framing involves selection and salience – it is the process whereby communicators act to promote a particular point of view that encourages the facts of a given situation to be viewed (or ignored) in a particular manner, with some facts made more noticeable than others. When speaking of political or social issues, frames actually define our understanding of any given situation (Kupyer 2002).
The onus then lies on you seeking the larger picture outside the popular frames you are offered – take a minute to reflect and research before you act. You may be surprised to find that your goals are perfectly aligned with the ‘frame-giver’, or not. You may find yourself convinced that Stop Kony is a worthy effort this one time, or not.
At least, now your reaction (giving support or criticsm) would be born out of knowledge, not manipulation.
P.S. Did you manage to somehow reach a conclusion?