The small California advocacy group Invisible Children has released a hotly anticipated follow-up to its controversial Kony 2012 video, an online smash that earned more than 100 million YouTube hits, and has been credited with spurring the African Union to send 5,000 troops to join the hunt for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Like last month's original, the 20-minute sequel — Kony 2012 Part II — seeks to raise awareness about the depredations of Kony, whose Lord's Resistance Army has forced children to become soldiers and sex slaves. (Watch Part II below.) Will the sequel quiet critics of the wildly popular but controversial original? Here's what you should know:
Remind me — what happened in the first film?
The video featured Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell and his young son, Gavin, discussing the need to catch the notorious warlord and his fighters. Some critics objected to Russell's decision to tell the tale of African villagers' suffering from a white American's perspective and the film was also slammed for over-simplifying the conflict, and using outdated information.
What happens in Part II?
It has "some of the same slick, inspiring shots" as the original, but "lacks the kind of narrative that made the original unique," says Julie Watson at The Associated Press. Largely, it attempts to address the criticisms of the first video, providing more details and context about efforts to stop Kony. It also includes more interviews with Africans, who discuss how complex the rebel conflict is, and how Kony's dwindling forces were pushed out of Uganda and into other countries several years ago. A key talking point: Jason Russell is conspicuously absent.
Where is Jason Russell?
He suffered a mental breakdown last month, apparently triggered by the stress of dealing with the fame the first film brought him, and was found running around San Diego in his underwear.
How is the sequel being received?
The jury's still out. Kony II will "almost certainly reach tens of millions of people," says Anthony Wing Kosner at Forbes. But "it will also encounter much more intense resistance than the original Kony 2012 video." The spotlight that shined on Invisible Children revealed ties to anti-gay, evangelical Christian groups; fewer people may be interested in hearing what the filmmakers have to say.
Watch Kony 2012 Part II for yourself: