The wife of filmmaker and Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell has defended her husband after he was arrested while walking around downtown San Diego naked, saying “many of the attacks against [Kony2012, his viral video about the Lord’s Resistance Army] were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard.”Russell became an instant sensation after his #Kony2012 video received 100 million hits in less than six days, becoming the most viral video of all time.
On Friday, the sudden rise to fame, combined with unanticipated negative critical reaction, apparently proved too much to bear for the filmmaker, resulting in a mental meltdown.
While many have laughed at the video of Russell’s naked rant in downtown San Diego and others have mocked the campaign by tweeting #Horny2012 after he was found masturbating in public, the video is more sad and disturbing than anything else.
Since he was detained by police Friday, Russell has remained hospitalized on a psychiatric hold under section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.
While Invisible Children released a statement this weekend claiming Russell’s rant was a result of “exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition,” Ford Vox, a brain injury physician and journalist based in Boston, begs to differ.
In his article for The Atlantic titled “Sharing Public Breakdowns: What We Can Learn From Jason Russell,” Vox writes, “It is much more likely that he was experiencing a psychotic episode — a manic state — an event as recognisable to some clinicians as a heart attack.”
And while some may argue that Russell’s manic meltdown undermines everything he promotes, his wife, Danica Russell, released this statement urging people to think otherwise:
“Thank you to everyone concerned with Jason and his health.
Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading up to KONY2012. We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. 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.
Let us say up front that Jason 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. On our end—the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We’ll take care of Jason, you take care of the work.
The message of the film remains the same: stop at nothing.”
As for what’s next for the filmmaker who has suddenly found himself on such a public stage, we agree with The Atlantic‘s Ford Vox, who writes, “I do hope Russell will choose to share his story. Perhaps he could help improve public sensitivity about brain diseases as much as he’s hoped to increase public awareness of Joseph Kony.”
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