'Kony' video producer loses it

2012-03-17 08:31

San Diego - A co-founder of the group behind a viral video about a brutal African warlord was detained by police and hospitalised after witnesses saw him running through streets in his underwear, screaming and banging his fists on the pavement.

Jason Russell of Invisible Children was hospitalised for exhaustion less than two weeks after the release of the 30-minute video he narrated about warlord Joseph Kony, said Ben Keesey, the group's chief executive officer.

"Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalised yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," Keesey said. "He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday."

"Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue," the statement read.

San Diego police dispatcher transcripts show neighbours began calling around 11:30 on Thursday to report that a man was running around in his underwear in the city's Pacific Beach neighbourhood.

Medical evaluation

"[Subject] is at the corner, banging his hands on the ground, screaming, incoherent," the transcript continues. "People are trying to calm him down, he's been stopping traffic."

Police Lieutenant Andra Brown said a 33-year-old man was detained and taken to a hospital for medical evaluation. He was never arrested, and no charges are planned.

"At this point, the police department's involvement in the matter is done," Brown said.

Russell "did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration", his wife, Danica, said in a statement that denied alcohol or drug use triggered the behaviour.

"We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a lot of attention to Jason and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard," his wife's statement read.

Russell, a San Diego native and graduate of the University of Southern California's film school, narrates the video, which has been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube. In the video, Russell talks to his young son, Gavin, about Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.

Gavin's birth is shown at the beginning of the film. At one point, the boy sums up what his dad does for a living.


"You stop the bad guys from being mean," he says.

At the video's conclusion Russell says: "At the end of my life I want to say that the world we left behind is one Gavin can be proud of, one that doesn't allow Joseph Konys and child soldiers."

Gavin replies: "I'm going to be like you dad. I'm going to come with you to Africa."

The video's overnight success has brought heightened scrutiny to the San Diego-based non-profit over its tactics and spending practices.

The group has been criticised for not spending enough directly on the people it intends to help and for oversimplifying the 26-year-old conflict involving the LRA and its leader, Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The group acknowledges the video overlooks many nuances but said it functions as a "first entry point" that puts the conflict "in an easily understandable format".

Keesey, the chief executive, released a video on Monday to respond to questions about the group's finances, including the amount of money it spends on travel and operations. He said money that directly benefits the cause accounted for more than 80% of its spending from 2007 to 2011.


"I understand why a lot of people are wondering, 'Is this just some slick, kind of fly-by-night, slacktivist thing?' when actually it's not at all," Keesey said. "It's connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign."

Russell has perhaps been Invisible Children's most public face since founding the group in 2005.

"We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time," Keesey said.

Here is video of the episode from YouTube. WARNING, explicit content.

  • brendonml - 2012-03-17 08:38


      Irene - 2012-03-17 09:40


      Willem - 2012-03-17 10:30

      People; there is oil in Uganda.. This is just one more step in this carefully planned propaganda campaign to justify US military 'intervention' in central Africa. The re-colonization of Africa is picking up speed. Simple

      Willem - 2012-03-17 10:39

      A good editor (with enough financial backing..) can make a similar video of the ANC's use of 'child soldiers' in the townships during the 'struggle'. I've seen footage myself of children killing children in our own country in the late 80's. But the 'struggle' was GOOD and Kony is BAAD. Propaganda is a powerful thing..

      AdriaanAdams - 2012-03-17 10:40

      I need yo be honest, but I love reading through all of this. All these comments that are made, made me realize why this world is what it is. We continuously talk about the things that are wrong, but as soon as someone tries to do something, we kill him too. I am getting the impression that we actually loves living in a world of chaos. My question is, before saying anything about IC and what they are doing, what have you done to make the world a better place to live in, besides moaning...

      halicon76 - 2012-03-17 23:37

      i think its all part of the viral :)

  • elewies - 2012-03-17 08:40

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This made my day! This video is EPIC

      Irene - 2012-03-17 09:40


  • kayladavideson - 2012-03-17 08:56

    small things amuse small minds. @Brendon and elewies - both of do not have the mental capacity to comprehend the dedication and passion Jason Russel must have that eventually drives him a mental breakdown.

      Jacques - 2012-03-17 09:18

      Ever consider that they DID just waste money on travel and personal expenses and now he feels bad???

      Jainoodien Salie - 2012-03-17 09:23

      Trevor - 2012-03-17 09:27

      More like drug abuse that makes you flip out like that....

      Brendon Lillis - 2012-03-17 14:57


      Johannes - 2012-03-18 11:59

      Or to spend the millions he made on drugs.

  • Hugo - 2012-03-17 09:33

    kony waloya,finish and klaar

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-03-17 09:42

    There is something very wrong with the whole thing

  • Johannes - 2012-03-17 09:46

    This guy is coocoo! I dont trust this whole kony thing. Sure, kony is a monster but these producers also seem to be some serious whackjobs!

      gbbfg - 2012-03-17 09:54


      daniellejoyvm - 2012-03-17 09:58

      I'm glad that because of one person's mental breakdown, we don't have to worry about Kony or the war that's been going on for 26 years. What a relief. Are you kidding me? There are still children being abducted, mutilated, raped, and forced to kill somewhere in Central Africa, no matter what one man in San Diego is doing. You don't have to support the man, but still go after the cause. This is just a distraction from the cause. That being said, I still support the man. He needs grace. He needs compassion. The criticism and sudden fame has been intense for Invisible Children in such a concentrated amount of time. Being a part of the IC family, I've seen how worried people are who know Jason and have been friends with him for years. This is not normal behavior for him. He broke under pressure. He's been hospitalized. Read this article by Donald Miller, he puts it perfectly: But please, whatever you think of Jason, keep pursuing this cause to bring an evil leader down.

      daniellejoyvm - 2012-03-17 09:59

      Sorry, the link is broken. Here's another:

      Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:32

      Ok for those of you that swoon over the Kony video, please watch this It may open your eyes...

  • John - 2012-03-17 09:50

    Haha, this is going to get more hits than his stupid Kony video.

      Bokfan - 2012-03-17 10:59

      Not having seen the video myself I cant argue whether it is stupid or not but I do know this: Nnyone working to end to child soldiering, banditry, rape and crimes against humanity has my sympathy, no matter how sad and crazy some of their life passages are. BTW are you showing your muscles in that snap, cos if you are you need to hit the Gym a bit harder. At the moment it seem to be klapping you.Big time. Go Gym

      John - 2012-03-17 11:44

      My point was, Bokfan, 38% of Invisible Children's proceeds go towards their projects in Africa. Whichever way you spin it that is a bloody minuscule amount. But hey, let's all 'stop kony' (if he is even still alive) by liking a status. ps thank you for your heartfelt comments. e-thugs represent.

  • Tommy - 2012-03-17 09:57

    Publicity stunt I say.

  • daniellejoyvm - 2012-03-17 10:06 This has never been about Jason Russell. This has never been about Invisible Children. Let's look past the distraction and bring the child

  • ummar.williams - 2012-03-17 10:14

    This video is inconclusive! If that;s all the proof that's required to sway ppl's opinion then it doesnt take much to fleece the public hey? Sad.....

  • Denise - 2012-03-17 10:28

    More likely he was trying to make a difference, not thinking about the travel expenses and wotnot as he believed what he was doing was righteous. Guess what people, his idea is still sound - Kony must be stopped. Not by you and me, we are just chair potatoes staring at a computer screen, but by the PTB in Uganda. There is a solution to all this – Invisible Children are making a difference in Uganda. They are building schools and educating the youngsters - (see their video on YouTube). The problem is the balance of funds is wrong. Less must be spent on luxurious travel and more on bricks. In other words, Invisible Children is a well-meaning but mismanaged charity.

  • Dronkie - 2012-03-17 10:29

    sometimes i feel like doing that

  • Robert - 2012-03-17 10:56

    The claim that... "We thought a few thousand people would see the film" is just not credible. This is a group that has focused almost all of its resources - and millions of dollars - into this carefully orchestrated viral marketing campaign. It's being analyzed as a masterpiece of viral marketing. This is just another mis-representation that will join the list already evident from the Kony2012 video.

  • SALife - 2012-03-17 11:07

    I wish Jason a speedy recovery. I think he is brave and courageous and his cause is admirable. May he be instumental of bringing this Kony characture to a speedy trial. There are many more Kony's out there.

      Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:46

      Kony is dead. Jason is a lair.

  • Ari - 2012-03-17 11:14

    The video is another attempt to brainwash people. When last checked, negative comments on the You Tube version were voted to the top and a cascading effect of scepticism as well as damning facts have been drowning out the initial confusion, sympathy, and emotional knee-jerk support the propaganda video purposefully created and preyed upon. You Tube comments have been disabled. It has been revealed that "Invisible Children" has been working with USAID, a US government agency that helps lay the groundwork for what could best be described as a modern-day imperial administrative network. It is now also revealed that Invisible Children attended the 2010 US State Department and Fortune 500 sponsored Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM) summit in London. It represents a new stage in manipulating the minds and hearts of the global population by leveraging so-called social media, more accurately described as "Propaganda 2.0."

      Willem - 2012-03-17 11:40

      Cannot agree more Ari. A thousand thumbs-ups to you. In addition; Kony's LRA has received clandestine US support. It is the old imperial game of divide and rule; create an enemy and generously offer to help destroy it.. (and get your military foot in the door..)

      Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:45

      People should open there eyes. We are being brainwashed, left, right and centre! Kony is probably dead.

      gouws2 - 2012-03-18 09:31

      @Johannes- spot on mate! We are being lied to about EVERYTHING! This is just another method they are trying to see if it works, a different kind of false flag attack, after watching ZEITGEIST, u CAN NOT believe anything these people tell you!

  • William - 2012-03-17 12:00

    He is Bananas!!

  • emma.barrycox - 2012-03-17 12:13

    I hope the gets better but... The kony video made me Angry as 27 mis was IC patting themselves on the back and only 3 mis had anything to do with the issue. There was little fact, and almost nothing from the people on the ground. the footage used was 6 years old. The whole video was just to make people who know nothing about the world outside of there bubbles feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves for clicking share and donating a couple of bucks. I can almost guarantee most people who shred the video never watched it and of those that did i bet almost non bothered to do any independent research. Kony dose need to be brought to book no doubt but why on earth anyone would think the US could "advise" on how to win a gorilla war is beyond me, they have never been any good in fighting gorilla war's. Which leads to the motivation of such a misleading video calling for US military intervention, The US dose nothing out of the goodness of its heart.

      AdriaanAdams - 2012-03-17 12:38

      So ok Emma. You have said a lot, but as fellow South African, tell me what have you done to stop the war in Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, etc. You have much to say about people outside Africa doing something, and although I agree that we as Africans need to standup for what is actually our responsibility, how do we dare criticize those who are actually doing something... Maybe we should rather find ways of coming alongside them, help them, and start to show that we can actually also do something, besides moaning...

  • ann.meier1 - 2012-03-17 13:03

    Keep up the good work, Jason Russell! Get well soon! If only more people in the world had the passion you do it would be a better place!

      Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:33

      Ok for those of you that swoon over the Kony video, please watch this It may open your eyes...

  • Brad.Kopping - 2012-03-17 13:21

    such a shame everyone thinks this video is a joke, the amount of effort and passion jason went into its developement and research is amazing...and to see that so many people just dont care, it makes you go crazy.

      wgjooste - 2012-03-17 16:59

      he got paid to do this ..... that is his job , go look at his income , i'd love a job that paid that much.

  • Luyolo Mhlauli - 2012-03-17 14:19

    Exhaustion,dehydration and stress cannot make you masturbate all over the neighborhood .\r\nsan-diego-invisible-children-\r\nkony-2012-142970255.html

      PeggySven - 2012-03-17 14:50

      @Luyolo, but a complete mental breakdown would cause a person to act that way. Show a little compassion for a change.

      Luyolo Mhlauli - 2012-03-18 07:31

      Doing good cannot give u a mental breakdown. Guilt can give u a mental breakdown. If the Ugandan Prime minister has come out against the video then what is the purpose of the video ?

      Herman - 2012-03-18 08:46

      Hi Luyolo, this seems to me a case of africa justice. I think this guy is the target of a sangoma.

  • Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:32

    Ok for those of you that swoon over the Kony video, please watch this It may open your eyes...

  • Johannes - 2012-03-17 14:44

    Also - Kony is already dead, most likely. Footage from the Kony 2012 video was shot in 2003 already. Wake up people, although their cause may be good, they are stealing the money of good hearted citizens!

      ann.meier1 - 2012-03-17 22:42

      Catch a wake up please! I do not know of one charity that distributes every penny it gets to the cause - there are overheads!

      Johannes - 2012-03-18 10:41

      You must wake up. Kony is likely dead, or not even living in Uganda anymore. Uganda has oil. This is just a campaign to get people up in arms, and then justify military action, while the non profit laughs all the way to the bank with a story that is actually outdated.

  • emma.barrycox - 2012-03-17 15:18

    @ GoBlitzi I personally do what ever i can to raise awareness, of issues in Africa, and when i can i donate to grass-routes organisations. Have you actually watched the video ? As i thought it was a great idea to raise awareness in till i actually watched it myself. If you are looking for a group working in Uganda, with the survivors of Kony's brutality take a look at Note i never said i did not want Kony brought to justice. What i want to know is why are they wanting troops in the wrong country ? Kony has not been active in Uganda since mid-2006.

      Elizabeth - 2012-03-17 17:08

      grass routes? Through the meadow?

      AdriaanAdams - 2012-03-17 19:35

      @emma, great to hear you are actually doing something, you should consider going there. It will change your life, trust me... I have personally been to Uganda a few times. There are many organisations working with ex-childsoldiers, and I have been involved with many of them. Not sure when you first heard of IC, but they have made many other videos too. I have personally witnessed the schools and work IC is doing in Uganda. The funny thing is that if you have really watched the video, you would have noticed that all they are trying to do is to made Kony known, so that he can be brought to justice. It is amazing to hear all these comments of him not being active in Uganda since mid-2006, but does that really matter. They never said he is still active there, all they say is that this is where they first got in contact with the reality of what he is doing. My reply was originally on your comment questioning why people from the USA are involved. Well, as previously said, as much as I believe africans needs to take responsibility for our own issues, do not judge until you have done anything but soothing the soul through a donation or two. Get involved, get your hands dirty, walk out of your comfort zone, do something for others even at your own cost. If you are doing that, lets talk...

      ann.meier1 - 2012-03-17 22:40

      Quite agree GoBlitzi! I lived in Uganda for 6 years and also know Invisible Children do great work there! These guys came out as youngsters and formed this charity from absolutely nothing. In about 2005/6 they went to the school my daughter was attending and gave a talk - they have been committed to helping these children for a number of years! This is no fly by night organisation.

  • Ribaita - 2012-03-17 19:11

    African Witchcraft has far reaching and dire see what it can do? They have bewitched the dude!!!!

  • brianpappalardo - 2012-03-18 06:10

    On March 8, an LRA attack left 1300 people displaced. The idea behind Kony 2012 is not just to bring Kony to justice but also the top-level commanders. It's still happening, the world needs to stop it, and we need to make this criticism more constructive. If you're not down with military intervention, that's fine. If you're not down with IC, that's fine. Support NGOs that are working on the ground to bring peace without a military solution. One really great organization for you to check out is The Voice Project (, who are working with musicians and women's groups in the region to broadcast songs and messages letting these child soldiers know that they are forgiven and will be welcomed home. The point is, if we take the time that we spend criticizing really great human beings and really great organizations and we turn that into productive energy, we would all be better off.

  • Ann - 2012-03-18 06:12

    This could be any one of several so-called "democractic" countries in Africa. Wake up, the West!

  • Luyolo Mhlauli - 2012-03-18 08:08

    I will not give compassion to someone who will bring us more misery as a result some in the US congress have introduced bills to send military over the region the same military which has ruined the middle east thus ruining us economically with petrol increases every month. This video came out at the same time that Uganda announced that has huge oil reserves and that it will increase production. It is also wrong for humanitarians to call on military aggression they are supposed to help the people and not only send 30 percent of their income to the Ugandan army to chase KONY. I also heard that Bono only sends one percent of the money he gets from his live aid concerts. George Clooney is also calling for military intervention in Sudan. Where is this leading to ?? More Power to international bodies like the UN to determine destinies of sovereign states. When you refer matters like these to UN remember that there are only a handful of countries that are in the UN Security Council and no African country is a permanent member.

  • Christopher - 2012-03-18 11:27


  • Johannes - 2012-03-18 11:58

    Lets face the facts. He was high on drugs, as reported in many american newspapers.

  • Johannes - 2012-03-18 12:00


  • pages:
  • 1