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March 15, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

An outdoor screening in Uganda of the half-hour documentary Kony 2012, which has set an online record for a viral video with more than 80 million views, touched off an angry mêlée Tuesday night. Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that the screening was set up in Lira, Uganda where fewer than 2 percent of the population have access to the Internet, drawing thousands of locals, some of them victims of Kony’s tyranny. Victor Ochen, director of the African Youth Initiative Network, told the Guardian that the crowd was particularly incensed over the way the film is being merchandised — including t-shirts with Kony’s portrait, posters, and buttons. “People were asking: Why give such criminals celebrity status? Why not prioritize addressing the plight of the victims whose sufferings are visible?” In an interview with al-Jazeera, one person in the crowd likened the merchandising to selling Osama bin-Laden t-shirts after 9/11 — “likely to be highly offensive to many Americans, however well-intentioned the campaign behind it.” Emmy Okello, a local radio reporter, said: “What has angered people is that the video is about a white person, not about the victims. All of them came here hoping to see video that tells their story.”