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Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka (1995 | 2009).

Pradeep Jeganathan & Qadri Ismail (eds.)

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« Thinking Through and Beyond the Sandahiru Saya | Main | Killing Fields 2: Unpunished War Crimes »
Monday
Mar192012

Going Viral like Kony 2012: Five ‘Take Away’ Tips for Channel Four

There were, and I suppose still are expectations, The channel four video, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: Unpunished War Crimes,” it’s going to go ‘viral.’ My sense is, no not really. But it’s pretty close to that viral edge though, and I think my tips are really going to help the next show in the series.

I must say I got all my tips from the masterpiece viral video, Kony 2012 a 53 min. video about an INGO, which has 82 million hits on YouTube as opposed to the first C4 video, Killing Fields (C4KF) which has only 230,000 clicks on YouTube. Why do they compare? Kony 2012 says it’s really about Uganda, and C4CU 2012 says it’s really about Sri Lanka. They are not; both really are about white people doing good and great things in the world. So they do compare.

So here are my tips:

(1) Narration: Kony 2012 is narrated by a youngish white guy, called Jason who runs around a lot, plays with his son, and does a really tight, sweet hug with a black kid he is saving from bad guys early on. C4CU is narrated by a old guy called Snow, who sits behind a desk, wears odd ties to try to look cool, and doesn’t hug anyone. That’s a fail right there, and plus, where is his little kid?

Take away: The Narrator has got to be a lovable white guy.

(2) The Good, the Bad and the Kid: It’s really important when you are doing a ‘rescuing helpless colored people from other colored people’ flick to establish right at the outset, apart from the obviously good white guys, who among the coloured guys running around are the good and bad guys. Kony 2012 has this down pat; right at the beginning, we are told that Gavin, Jason’s kid, only knows that his Dad “works in Africa.” Imagine saying that in kindergarden! Cool huh? But it gets better. When asked for more Gavin says, “you catch the bad guys like in Star Wars.” That was a clincher.

On the other side, if you sit through C4CU and the original, C4KF you may hear some boring stuff about Singalee and Taamul. Look, C4, drop that stuff, if you want to go viral.

Take away: Decide who your bad guys are. Keep it simple.

(3) Short Snappy names for the Bad guys: The bad guy in Jason’s video is a black guy called Joseph Kony. Short and snappy huh? It fits well on the T shirt, KONY 2012. (Yes, they are selling T-Shirts). No, he doesn’t tell us anything about this guy Kony’s ‘background,’ even how old he is, where he was born, or his Ethn..come on, he is a black guy ok, and he is a star wars bad guy. Learn from that, C4. You are never going to get anywhere near viral with characters like Valoopullaaaii some one, and MaahiNDhaa. Does not roll off the tongue in middle America.

Take Away: Call your bad guy ‘Duh.’

(4) You got to say US troops are going in. I cannot stress this point enough; it’s the climax of Jason’s film, Kony 2012. They show a letter Jason is reading out, signed by Obama, saying finally US troops are going in to get the bad guys, and everyone – there is for some reason a whole bunch of white people there -- starts clapping. Awesome. To be fair, C4 and Snow, R2P, O Canada and everyone involved has been trying hard to get this letter, and somehow, they didn’t get it. But here is where they need to understand that it’s fine to just write it up, like they did with most of the other stuff in their flick. This is just a movie, its fine! Rather than all those boring letters from the UN they show in their film, just one letter saying, ‘okay, we are going in’ would have been really worth may be 10-20 mil. clicks right there.

Take Away: Write up a letter from Obama.

(5). Do not show it to the natives: Do not be so stupid as to arrange a public showing of the flick to the natives you are rescuing. This is where Jason and his team really messed up. They were so taken with all the hits they were getting, , they put up a big screen in Northern Uganda and showed the movie to the natives. Bad move. Not only did they not want to buy the T Shirts, they even threw stones at the screen.

Take away: Show them a different movie obviously.

I hope this criticism will be taken constructively now; it’s just five basic points, ‘take aways’, as they say at business seminars. Do not forget to thank me, if the third C4 show does go viral.

 

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