Meme Watch: KONY 2012 vs. Trayvon Martin

on Monday, Mar. 19th

Here at Turnstyle we’ve been following the evolution of two internet campaigns that rose to prominence in the same week, and like others, we can’t help but to compare.

Invisible Children’s “KONY 2012” campaign is aimed at raising awareness around the atrocities in Africa at the hands of warlord Joseph Kony and his militia. It has boasted 8 million views in the first 24 hours of its release on March 5th, and has now become one of the most viral videos of all time.

But there’s been another unsettling case of violence that advocates have been trying to draw attention to. It’s got one victim, not tens of thousands, and it took place here in the U.S. earlier this year.

On February 26th, about a week before KONY 2012 lit up , 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in the gated community where his family lives. The alleged killer was 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the incident and despite Zimmerman’s admittance of shooting Martin in self-defense, he has not been charged.

Media began covering the Martin case March 7th.

The Work From Home journal posted this article a day after the shooting.

The hashtag, “Justice4Trayvon” began to make the rounds on twitter days later.

News One writer, Dr. Boyce Watkins, said this in an article about the incident: “The use of deadly force by a neighborhood watchman is enough to create suspicion in the mind of anyone with a working brain.”

Huffington Post reported that Trayvon Martin’s family were calling for the arrest of Zimmerman seven day after Martin was killed.

A BET commentary in response to the killing asks: Why should young Black boys feel as though their lives are endangered every time they walk out the door?

Martin’s story has yet to reach viral success— despite coverage in The Huffington Post and various daily news sites.

For comparison’s sake, on March 6th, hashtags including the word Kony or #StopKony sky-rocketed to somewhere near five million, with celebrities like Oprah and Rihanna also tweeting in support of the video.  By March 8th, Tweets using those hashtags had hit 9.45 million.

So what do you think? What accounts for the discrepancy in these two stories’ virality?  What can we expect to see next for both KONY 2012 and Trayvon Martin?


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