Director who had nude ‘meltdown’ on streets is kept in care as wife blames shock popularity of video for behaviour
- Jason Russell, co-founder of the charity Invisible Children, is being held in a psychiatric ward
- He was reported to be masturbating in public and running through the streets wearing only his underwear
- His wife, Danica, has blamed his breakdown on the attention and personal criticism the YouTube film has generated
- The Ugandan government has released a YouTube response – dismissing the ‘slick’ video as giving a false impression of the country
The director of the ‘Kony 2012’ viral video is being kept in a mental hospital for his own safety, as his wife blamed the unexpected popularity and criticism of the film for his public breakdown.
Jason Russell, co-founder of the charity Invisible Children, was arrested for allegedly being drunk and masturbating in public yesterday morning following reports that he was seen vandalising cars and running through traffic wearing just his underwear.
He is allegedly being held in a 5150 psychiatric ward in San Diego, where authorities are allowed to keep him for three days to confirm he is not a danger to himself or others.
Mr Russell’s wife has now spoken out to defend her husband’s ‘irrational’ behaviour – suggesting that it was brought on by the unexpected attention and criticism that his film about the African warlord Joseph Kony generated.
Danica Russell issued a statement saying her husband: “did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration.”
“We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it,” she said.
“While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a lot of attention to Jason and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard.”
Further criticism emerged today in a response from the Ugandan government who argue the video gives a “false impression” and that Kony is no longer in the country.
“The Kony 2012 campaign fails to make one crucial point clear. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda,” Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said in a 9-minute video posted on YouTube.
The Prime Minister insisted that the Kony 2012 video did not represent the current situation in the east African nation.
Mbabazi said Uganda was on Kony’s trail but said they did not “need a slick video on YouTube… to take notice.”
Mr Russell, 33, was calm and co-operative when apprehended by police, according to NBC San Diego, but seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.
Danica has denied that her husband has any substance abuse or drinking problems.
Although he was not charged with a crime, officials decided that he should be committed to hospital for medical treatment following the incident.
“During the evaluation we learned that we probably needed to take care of him,” a police spokesman said.
“So officers detained him and transferred him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.”
Ben Keesey, chief executive of Invisible Children, the charity set up in 2004 by Mr Russell and two friends, issued a statement of support for his colleague.
“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalised yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition,” he said.
“The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday.”
“We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”
The charity, which aims to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, sprang to worldwide fame last week after releasing an online video entitled ‘Kony 2012‘.
The 30-minute film, directed by Mr Russell, documents the activities of LRA leader Joseph Kony, notorious for his reign of terror in central Africa and particularly his use of child soldiers.
It has garnered 80 million hits on YouTube, and attracted widespread support from celebrities and members of the public.
The filmmaker seems to have been unprepared for the amount of publicity that his video would generate, which has been promoted on Twitter with tags that include #Kony2012 and endorsed by the likes of Justin Bieber, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey.
However, critics claim that the film over-simplifies a complex conflict and diverts attention from more pressing causes.
Father-of-two Mr Russell is an evangelical Christian who is described by Invisible Children as “our grand storyteller and dreamer”.