This essay combines textual analysis of the Invisible Children documentary along with an examination of the ways in which the Invisible Children movement has utilized network technologies to spread awareness, raise money, and enlist individuals to join in this cause. Drawing upon previous studies of similar social movements, I will consider the Invisible Children project as a particularly unique example of “cyberactivism” in the way that it utilizes networked technologies (social networking sites in particular) and, by centering this movement on the documentary, represents a new type of cultural logic that Henry Jenkins’ calls “convergence culture.” Having positioned the Invisible Children project as such, I will also analyze the strategies of the film in relation to not only the formal devices used to engage the intended youth audience (through music, editing, and narrative) but also the positioning of the viewer and the filmmakers as the empowered (and networked) figures who can take very simple actions to join this activist movement and affect real change in the lives of these Ugandan children. By watching the film and taking advantage of the tactics of cyberactivism offered to them, viewers are no longer positioned to simply become more informed. They can instead become “monitorial citizens,” which as I will point out, affords them a certain type of political efficacy. This essay points out the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to studying the film, and the larger cyberactivist movement of which it is a part, in order to better understand the practices of these cyberactivist spectators.
The article available for download here is the post-print version.
Pepper, Shayne, "Invisible Children and the Cyberactivist Spectator" (2009). Communication, Media and Theatre Faculty Publications. 5.