Thursday, October 4, 2012

Russell's out-of-body experience?

USA Today, the nation's colorful, vapid newspaper, got a jump on the coming Oprah Winfrey interview of Jason Russell, founder of Invisible Children and maker of the now infamous Kony 2012 viral video.

In the advanced excerpt, undoubtedly leaked to boost viewers for Oprah's  less-then-successful network, Russell claims he had an out-of-body experience this past March.

If you saw the video, it was hard to forget, of course.

It showed a butt-naked Russell on a busy street corner in San Diego ranting and raving at traffic, snapping his fingers, shouting incoherently, and slapping his hands on the pavement.

(The article wrongly states that Russell was pounding his fists on the pavement, which makes me wonder if the reporter bothered to see it before writing about it.)

Russell clearly flipped out. The true reasons are probably known only to Russell and his psychiatrist, but the man clearly has some deeply rooted issues he needs to confront. I doubt that his meltdown was because of the fact that the video was viewed by 100 million people.

He's trying to make a comeback, and why not? His Invisible Children organization raises millions of dollars each year from gullible college students for his anti-Joseph Kony crusade. Without Invisible Children, Russell and the others at the organization stand to lose their fame, fortune and So-Cal life style.

My criticism of the Kony 2012, which some have said was too harsh, still stands. Russell used his child to generate a superficial emotional response on the part of millions of naive viewers to a very serious and complex problem.

He not only used his child, but he drew on historical film footage to create a host of misleading impressions, the worst of which is that Kony is still terrorizing children in northern Uganda. He then concluded the video by asking for money.

Only in passing does Kony 2012 mention that Kony left northern Uganda in 2006, and has been roaming a remote region of central Africa ever since.

What bothers me the most is that Russell has the personnel and the resources to do much, much more, and to have a serious impact on the on-going push by the African Union soldiers to find and capture Kony and ultimately put him on trial.

Here's the article from USA Today:

Oprah Winfrey has scored another first.
She's talking to Kony 2012 campaign creator Jason Russell, who had a very public meltdown soon after the phenomenal success of the video that brought worldwide attention to Uganda rebel leader Joseph Kony. It all happened in March. And while many remember the initial Kony video, another video â?? of Russell â?? emerged, showing him on the streets of San Diego naked, yelling, disrupting traffic and pounding his fists on the pavement.
Russell was hospitalized with what his wife said at the time was "reactive psychosis."
He and his wife, Danica, will discuss with Winfrey on Sunday's Oprah's Next Chapter (9 p.m., OWN) what happened on that day and the impact the events have had on his career, his marriage and his continued fight against Kony.
Here's an excerpt:
OPRAH: "What do you remember, Jason?"
JASON: "I remember me flipping off cars."
OPRAH: "Flipping off cars? Like with your..."
JASON: "With both hands. I remember that just like 'doot,' just like a little memory. I remember running around our lemon tree. I remember ..."
OPRAH: "There were reports that you were breaking into cars?"
JASON: "There are reports. I mean I think I was stopping cars in the street. People said I was laying in the street â?? it's a busy street â?? I was laying in the street."
OPRAH: "How did you get your robe off? How do you go from running out with your robe on to your robe off?"
JASON: "Again, it's really hard to explain if people who have never had an out-of-body experience, but it really wasn't me. That wasn't me, that person on the street corner ranting and raving and naked is not me, that's not who I am."
Russell goes on to acknowledge that he was "walking around snapping my fingers up and down" and "slapping my hands on the ground as hard as I can. Just slapping them on the ground. Talking to myself. Ranting. Raving. Talking about good versus evil, God and the devil. I mean it was just very out of control." He shows that he dented his wedding ring because he was pounding the pavement, literally, so hard.

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