Sorry Invisible Children, but you’ve found out the hard way: the Internet has the attention span of a 2-year-old child watching paint dry in a library. Simply put, we’re always looking for something new to draw our interest. And while Kony 2012 became the most successful viral video ever created, Kony 2012: Part II has not found the voracious audience of the first film, garnering just 1% of the views of its predecessor so far. In its first week, Part II was watched 1.6 million times.
The total pales in comparison to the original Kony 2012, which earned 112 million views in its first week online, and over its five-week run it has notched up more than 180 million views. That’s a staggering tally for a half-hour-long, documentary-style video about a part of the world many have never even heard of before. Sure, the view count has tapered off significantly in the past few weeks, but it’s still far more successful than the sequel ever will be.
On April 5, one month to the day after Kony 2012 first hit YouTube, San Diego-based non-profit Invisible Children released what they hoped would be another smash hit. But the second installment, which continues to chronicle the despicable affairs of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, has largely fallen on a disinterested audience. Part II has been subtitled “Beyond Famous,” which seems to be an overly optimistic tagline.
Sequels can be Hollywood gold – if they’re planned properly. Terminator 2 capitalized on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success from the first Terminator film to earn 433% more at the box office than the original. Invisible Children could have been looking to mirror this trend – the unexpected, wild success of the first film sparked their desire to release another. But perhaps the release came too quickly – Terminator 2, after all, was released more than six years after the first.
The first film succeeded in its primary mission, to make Kony famous, but with it came the usual hitches of stardom that might have tarnished the viral potential of any subsequent films from Invisible Children. After watching the film, many criticized it for its overly simplified view of the region and for its self-righteous tone, which seemed to glamorize the Invisible Children organization like the suavest of ad men. And it probably didn’t help the organization’s credibility when its founder, Jason Russell, was found nearly naked in a San Diego neighborhood yelling incoherently. He was suffering a psychotic episode, his family said. Regardless, the extra media attention on Russell didn’t help to boost views, according to the New York Times, and didn’t help build buzz for the second film. While 1.6 million views in a week is nothing to scoff at, it’s a huge decline from the first. Yes, we’ve moved on to the next viral thing.
But perhaps the focus for Part II wasn’t on a record-setting view count. After all, if they were aiming for new traffic heights, they would have known to include kittens or adorable babies.