It's a news story so outrageous, it might as well have sprung fully formed out of the minds of Matt Stone and Trey Parker: A slick, 30-minute web video, starring a photogenic man and his equally photogenic young son, seeks to mobilize the world against a Ugandan warlord. It goes viral in a big way and dominates headlines, simultaneously raising the doubts and concerns of many (including us), who suspect there is more ego than activism at play in this particular fundraising endeavor. Then, 11 days later, the charismatic star of that video, whose face and voice is now familiar to 80 million people, is arrested in San Diego after police received calls of a man "in various stages of undress running through traffic and screaming." There are also complaints of public masturbation.
TMZ has acquired video of that man, Jason Russell -- Invisible Children co-founder and self-anointed messianic leader of the KONY 2012 movement -- shortly before his arrest. Consider:
According to the Invisible Children website, Russell is "a Christian and father to two children" who "wants to have nine more children" with his wife, Danica Russell, who he calls his "best friend for over 23 years." Ms. Russell released a statement on Friday night addressing her husband's arrest, NBC reports, saying he "has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration."
In another newly surfaced video making the rounds, Russell addresses a large crowd about his background (he initially had a dream to make "Hollywood musicals like Moulin Rouge and Chicago and Hairspray") before "God laughed" and his destiny led him towards his Invisible Children campaign. "The point is, we can have fun while we end genocide," he says. "It's an adventure. There are so many obstacles and challenges, but we're going to have a blast doing it."
And if you're not yet feeling stupid for investing in one of the KONY 2012 kits, perhaps we've saved the best for last. Here is a Michael Jackson-inspired music video (actually, it just directly lifts the melody to his song "We Are Here to Change the World"), featuring a healthy dose of Russell's fancy footwork.
The dream is alive.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.