Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children and the filmmaker behind the viral “Kony 2012” video, has been detained by police in San Diego and referred to medical help. He was picked up for acting out on the street, reportedly naked and not in control of himself. Celebrity gossip site TMZ has posted a video of a ranting naked man pounding the sidewalk while facing traffic, over and over. According to reports he did not resist arrest, was not legally “arrested” but detained. The officers reportedly felt he needed medical help.
Internet speculators suggest the success of his “Kony 2012” video may have brought unmanageable celebrity to Russell’s life, pushing him over the edge. Some think maybe the stress of critics challenging the authenticity of Invisible Children as a charity may have sent him into an anxiety attack. Still others watch the video incredulously, not sure this is James Russell, or pretty sure the video shows a man whacked out on drugs. Some are even suggesting he was drugged deliberately, as part of a political conspiracy.
The controversy around the “Koney 2012” video is much larger than evident. In just over 13 days, the video about Uganda child army recruitment was posted to Facebook and Youtube, rocketed to 80 million views. The “Invisible Children” charity received scrutiny, as did Mr. Russell. Activists within Uganda took to the International media to criticize the video, even though it was sympathetic to humanitarian efforts and seemingly supported the same worldwide message of hope for Uganda. But it can take more than a week or two to unravel something as complex as Invisible Children and Mr. Russel.
While the Kony video is very effective as a pleae to help save the children in Uganda, critics have been highlighting connections between Mr. Russel and extreme conservative groups, including Creationists and anti-gay political groups known to be seeking political influence in Uganda and Africa. Mr. Russell was recorded on video at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last fall, where he publicly admitted that while people think Invisible Children is a charity, he considers it a business, with a clear agenda. There are also investigations into the funding of the non-profit, which highlight donors like Discovery Institute (proponents of Intelligent Design), The Call (openly anti-gay right-wing fundamentalist group), and backers of California’s anti-gay movements.
Critics highlight these connections as contrary to the humanitarian agenda put forth in the video. This may explain why many of the most vocal critics are from within Uganda, from non-profits seemingly battling for the same charitable outcomes portrayed in the Kony 2012 video, but without political or religious motives.
According to LA Times, the Invisible Children charity has confirmed to NBC that Mr. Russell is now receiving medical help:
“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition,” the statement 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.” – LATimes
Some of the comments from readers on the RawStory web site include:
“Something got slipped into his morning coffee.”
“I’ve been exhausted and dehydrated many many times. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid running around naked, vandalizing cars and masturbating. Well, not in public anyway.”
“I would guess that someone paid someone to slip this guy an extacy/lsd mikey. The CIA used to do that routine all the time…”
“Of course, it’s entirely speculation on my part, but I’m thinking that this guy is probably in need of psychiatric help. That or detox.”
As usual, there is probably more to the story, and more than exhaustion and dehydration involved in Mr. Russell’s behavior on the San Diego street, but he did manage to get the attention he needed.