Jason Russell, Kony 2012 filmmaker, was just dehydrated, says his wife

This is Russell with Kristen Bell, not his wife.

The big story over the weekend, at least in our superficial neck of the woods, was about the public breakdown of Kony 2012 filmmaker Jason Russell. The 30 minute Kony 2012 video has been viewed over 80 million times. I watched the whole thing over a week ago, and was initially touched by the movement. Then I kind of questioned how simplistic it was. I remembered a moving BBC interview I heard with a former Sudanese child soldier named Emmanual Jal who founded a charity called Gua Africa. Why was this group Invisible Children encouraging people to go after one particular war criminal instead of focusing on the counseling and rehabilitation of former child soldiers? It just seemed to paint the issue with a very wide brush. Get the bad guy, the kids go home and everyone is happy. Many outlets had similar, but more informed criticism of the video, and of Invisible Children’s questionable fundraising. The Ugandan government claims that Kony’s organization was ousted in 2006 and that they’re made up of about 300 people, not the thousands of children the video claims. You can read more about it here and here.

Anyway you’ve surely heard that Jason Russell flipped out on a street corner, naked, in San Diego, and was transported by police to the hospital, where he was put on a 5150 psychiatric hold. TMZ has two videos of this incident, where you can see Russell talking to himself and beating the ground. He was supposedly detained for public masturbation, but he just looks like he’s having a naked psychotic break not like he’s getting off. For this poor guy’s sake I hope he was smoking something or taking some new pill that led him to this dangerous, very embarrassing situation. From my perspective it did look like an issue with drugs. Russell’s wife said that he was under a lot of stress and dehydrated, though, which is just what the Invisible Children Spokesperson said earlier. She claims he’s not on any drugs at all.

Nude and masturbating, pounding the pavement with his fists…Jason Russell’s very public breakdown on Thursday was not the result of substance abuse, his wife insisted Friday.

Danica Russell instead suggested all the sudden attention on her husband following the release of his KONY 2012 mini-documentary is to blame.

The Invisible Children co-founder “did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration,” Danica said.

“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.”

[From Radar Online]

Well I hope this guy gets the help he needs. I feel guilty for watching the videos at TMZ at all. If he was just some average well groomed guy having a naked breakdown, it wouldn’t be on TMZ. If this happened three weeks ago, that would have been the case.

Jason Russell and Kristen Bell are shown at an Invisible Children event in 2009. Credit: Apega/WENN.com

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100 Responses to “Jason Russell, Kony 2012 filmmaker, was just dehydrated, says his wife”

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  1. Talie says:

    He comes off very flamboyant in the second video TMZ posted. Looks like more than dehydration–try full-on psychotic break. And it’s probably not the first time. That’s what repression does.

  2. The Original Mia says:

    When I’m dehydrated, I drink water. Have yet to drop trough & go running through the streets. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  3. Maggs says:

    Wth. Strange. My teenage son says that Kony video has been posted all over Facebook by kids at his high school like crazy.

  4. Samigirl says:

    I’ve been hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration (the beginning of my pregnancy with my first, didn’t know what the deal was)…I got put in the hospital after I passed out at work (bar-tending), not going crazy and running around naked and fondling myself in public. There is definitely more to this story.

    • Kimbob says:

      @Samigirl, your explanation/description of dehydration makes much more sense! I can assure everyone that A DEHYDRATED PERSON DOESN’T HAVE AS MUCH ENERGY AS JASON HAD in that naked video. No effin’ way.

      This is just me, but quite frankly I consider the organization’s and Jason’s wife’s explanation of DEHYDRATION tantamount to a SLAP IN THE FACE regarding the public at large’s intelligence. Give me a break, puhleez! If anyone buys the “dehydration explanation,” I’ve also got some mountain property in Florida for sale, also.

      Way to go, Jason! You just gave your movement ZERO credibility.

      Maybe he did have a psychotic break…and as another poster mentioned…I believe ALSO that I don’t think this is his first.

  5. Skeptic says:

    I’m a psych nurse and can tell you this behavior is NOT from dehydration! I can understand his wife defending him but to say something so ridiculous makes it that much worse. I too hope he gets the help he needs.

    • Wendi says:

      I wonder if he’s not a diabetic. My brother has a friend who was put into pysch lockdown and while I don’t know the details, it did have something to do with the diabetes / sugar thing. Ditto for a former collegue of my husband.

      • NotSoAnonymous says:

        I’ve been witness to a breakdown that was caused by diabetes in a friend of the family. There were guns involved, horses and the guy also ended up in the hospital. It was frankly terrifying and everyone is lucky that no shots went off. I could possibly buy that Jason Russell had this sort of issue but if that were the case, I think it would have been included in their statement.

      • Wendi says:

        You would think so. Then again, there seems to be very little said about this particular effect of poor sugar management anywhere.

        Possibly this isn’t something they want known that could easily happen again because it’s due to a chronic condition.

      • Wendi says:

        His video went viral and he’s no doubt fielding a whole bunch of job offers because of it. Drunk or drugged to the point of what he did aka “dehydration” implies a one-off situation far more than “If I don’t watch my sugar levels, this could happen on the set every day while I’m working for you”.

        The former collegue had this happen on the first day of the job, said job being abroad in a 3rd world country. There were no guns involved as there were none on hand, but he got violent / weird enough that someone pressed charges against him, he ended up heavily sedated in the hospital for a few days and then was medi-vacced out of the country.

      • fabgrrl says:

        Wendi – excellent point about not wanting to reveal a serious, on-going condition, like diabetes. But it seems that “allergic reaction” would have been a better excuse than “dehydration”.

      • lin234 says:

        I’m going to rule diabetes out simply because if it was so simple, his family would be blaming it on a ongoing medical condition. There is nothing embarrassing about having diabetes especially if the world is discussing and watching you make a complete fool out of yourself naked in public.

        I do think he had good intentions to start with and broke down when people started dissecting everything apart. He’s probably never been criticized so harshly and his ego couldn’t take it leading to a nervous breakdown or drugs.

        On a side note, I admit I was taken in by the video when I first watched it. Then I did some research and read about how frivolously they spent their money. Also, I can’t blame them too much for simplifying the Kony case. Let’s face it, we have short attention spans. How do you explain something that has been going on for decades without sounding like a documentary? The whole point was to bring a man to justice and raise funds for their charity. It would have worked if it didn’t go viral as fast as it did.

      • Cerulean says:

        Those are my thoughts too.

  6. LadyBird83 says:

    HA! Dehydrated. More like tweaked out on meth or ecstasy. Good job buddy. You worked so hard to get people talking about Kony but now all they can talk about is your crazy ass. Way to overshadow your cause. 2 gold stars asshole.

  7. Wif says:

    Poor fella. Whatever made him do this, I hope to never take.

  8. lauren says:

    Ecstasy would not make someone behave like that…

    I think he clearly has some mental problems which were exacerbated by stress.. People are all too capable of behaving like this without the aid of drugs!

  9. Marianne says:

    Im sorry. I just don’t buy that dehydration makes you run through the streets naked and masturbating.

  10. lost in the barrens says:

    Actually this looks like someone took a little too much ghb.I’ve seen this kind of stuff before in my old church/wellesley,Toronto neighbourhood.

  11. Shelb says:

    Acid? PCP? Dehydration is the go to excuse for celeb breakdowns, but this is obviously not even close. Not to mention, his whole thing is a scam anyway,

  12. usernametoo says:

    Police got him instead of kony.I wonder now how he explain this to his son.

  13. Fishlips says:

    I’ve experienced dehydration several times since I began breastfeeding, and the urge to go nekkid in public is not one of the symptoms.

  14. Kimbob says:

    Oh, and ONE MORE THING….has anyone read on the TMZ site this a.m. that they’re quoting Jason as saying he wants to HAVE NINE CHILDREN W/HIS WIFE?!

    Excuse me, but just like the “quiver movement,” my opinion of ANYONE that wants to have that many progeny in THIS DAY AND AGE w/the worldwide population explosion we already have….running out of natural resources, animals becoming extinct due to too many humans, the earth’s finite resources….sorry….anyone that thinks like that in our global climate now….they’re BATSHIT CRAZY.

    This dude & his organization aren’t getting ONE RED PENNY from me. Color me convinced this dude is a whacked-out nut job.

  15. Bad Gal Addiction says:

    Seems legit, when I’m dehydrated I do the exact same things…

    • jc126 says:

      I do it when I’m neither dehydrated nor exhausted. But I confine it to my living room!

      “Exhaustion”. No one is hospitalized for exhaustion. The poster above who was hospitalized when dehydrated, exhausted and pregnant had a diff. total situation, they’re not going to hospitalize a 31 year old guy who’s “exhausted”.

  16. lisa says:

    damn.. it’s going to be in the mid 80′s where I live.

    I’m going to be drinking a lot of water today..

  17. daisy says:

    I believe its a great cause. get kony then help the kids…hopefully they won’t kill you first..sadly.

  18. cbear says:

    I’m glad I didn’t jump on the KONY video bandwagon. Something didn’t sit right with me about it, and maybe it’s what Kaiser said….too simple, too slick. Now that I’ve heard more about this guy and how little of their donations they actually spend in Africa, the whole thing is suspect with me.

    I saw this great roast-up of his organization on a British talk show: Apparently, 1/3 of their donations go to their dance/music videos – part of the “awareness” campaign (tho’ they never mention Uganda). No wonder this organization is widely considered a sham in Africa.

  19. spinner says:

    Way to go. Discredit yourself, your cause & your backers, all in one fell swoop. I wonder how all the big stars feel now after promoting that video. hmmmmm…remember whom his most ardent supporters were?

  20. Jayna says:

    Spare me, dehydration. LOL

    Drugs or mental issues or both.

  21. Cerulean says:

    He’s obviously had a psychotic break. He also seems sexually repressed. Public scrutiny is not for the weak or the fragile. Did they not realize how only spending a third of your budget on actual outreach might look? Admittedly they are about awareness more than anything but still…

  22. JessSaysNo says:

    Bipolar disorder is nothing to joke about. I feel bad because this guy seems nice and wants to do good for the world but to me he is obviously repressing his sexuality and either has a drug problem or a mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t breaking down because of ONE of his issues, its a combination.

    I had questions about him being gay when I watched the KONY video but I didn’t really care because it’s his own life. But now, after watching the video, it’s obvious to me that he is struggling with issues relating to homosexuality. The way he talks, arm waves, sashay-ing, snapping his fingers like that.

    I hope he knows that he can still do great work, love God, and be a great dad regardless of sexuality.

    • janie says:

      I agree. My gaydar went through the roof when I watched interviews with him. Normally I would consider that none of my business, but his support of the Ugandan government makes me wonder if he is in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill there. Invisible Children also received funding from multiple anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and the Castor Family Foundation. I think a lifetime of sexual repression instigated this psychotic breakdown, which is sad. However, I’d feel much more sympathy for him if the organization wasn’t so clearly anti-homosexuality.

    • cbear says:

      I’m sure he did go over there, witness terrible things, and want to “do nice.” But I suspect at some point, his organization became more about him, and less about the cause. I read somewhere from people who attended his “awareness” events that often there was more promotion of the organization’s staff members’ personal ventures (like bands, music, etc.), than of the actual issue in Uganda.

  23. some bitch says:

    Dehydration my ass. More like methamphetamine-induced psychosis.

  24. Nev says:


    problem solved.

  25. Maripily says:

    I wish his people would be honest about what happened to him. A psychotic episode, possibly drug induced, possibly due to stress/depression/mental illness/chronic illness. To blame this on dehydration just adds to the stigma of mental illness. I’m not surprised by the lack of compassion in the comments…I think more of us would be sympathetic if he just admitted he suffered from a breakdown.

    • Inari says:


      If it was a psychotic episode, most people would be sympathetic. It’s awful, but it happens.

      If it was, like some suggested above, related to diabetes, practically everyone would be. Same with other non-stigmatised somatic conditions.

      If they stick with dehydration… Lay off the drugs, dude, and learn to make up a better stories.

  26. Joh says:

    They also receive funding from some anti gay hate groups

  27. skuddles says:

    And don’t forget exhaustion – according to his Rep….

  28. SHump76 says:

    Dehydration my ASS. When I’m dehydrated, my lips get dry and I feel weak and dizzy and have a headache, all of which gets significantly better upon drinking a bottle of water. I do not strip off and beat the ground whilst yelling randomly at no one, ffs.

  29. B says:

    What a nut. I live a few blocks away from where he had his “episode,” and talked to people who saw him. Whatever he was on, he was on a good one. Gross.

  30. katie says:

    I think this is more of a mental illness issue then drug use. What he was saying in the video sounds like typical schizophrenia. However, if he does have mental issues, like bipolar, taking drugs could bring out a break. If so I feel really sorry for him. Poor guy :(

  31. B says:

    Also, if his wife is going to be an enabler, she could at least come up with something more clever and/or intelligent.

  32. Cait says:

    His wife?? He pings my gaydar hard!

  33. Providence says:

    I watched the original documentary “Invisible Children” about 7 years ago. I was 100% convinced that he was gay. I was shocked to hear that he was married with kids. Maybe he’s reached a tipping point?

  34. Cinesnatch says:

    The wife’s denial that it was something other than stress/needing water can best be explained by the larger denial she has about the rainbows that were flying out of his mouth. Evangelical Christian gay-repression has jumped the shark.

  35. WOM says:

    Regardless of WHY he was behaving that way, I have sympathy for Russell. But I resent his wife’s comments which amount to her attempting to shame or discredit the charity’s detractors.

  36. Mingy says:

    this whole thing is just insane!
    i watched the video and i was in awe at all of jason russell’s work all these years…that jacob made me cry so hard, and thinking of his sweet face now brings tears to my eyes..
    his wife saying that he was dehydrated is just so ridiculous (im really tired of people/celebs releasing statements that are complete BULLSH*T..just insults our intelligence). anyway, like others have said, my gaydar went PING also.
    this just sucks..i really wanted to believe him.

  37. Cirque28 says:

    Jason Russell has a stimulant vibe IMO, so it could possibly be crank or Ecstasy or whatever. This time it triggered a psychotic break, although normally he stays awake for days on end, dancing in 100% heterosexual musical theater numbers, and making methy plans:

    I am going to help end the longest running war in Africa, get Joseph Kony arrested & redefine international justice. Then I am going to direct a Hollywood musical. Then I am going to study theology & literature in Oxford, England, and then move to New York to start “The Academy” – which will be a school where the best creative young minds in the world attend.


    • Kimbob says:

      @Cirque28, wow…just…WOW, after reading what he said. I had commented on this thread earlier today (this a.m.). I was really offended by the farcical excuse of ‘dehydration & exhaustion,’ & commented on that & more.

      Now, after reading what he said, I’m thinking more along the lines of…YES, probably a slant towards “stimulants.” But if I had to guess, I think he’s probably bipolar, saying these things on manic episodes. Again, another guess, but if he is bipolar, he MAY fuel his manic episodes w/”stimulants,” which might have well caused this latest “episode.” To me, this is VERY plausible.

      I know he means well. He seems to be a kind-hearted, empathetic individual who can “get things done”…..short-term. I just hate it he became so visible & now THIS….not good, so, so not good!

      • Cirque28 says:

        True, true. Bi-polar people are sometimes drawn to stimulant abuse because they (understandably) fear their depressive lows and prefer to stay on the upswing– where they feel GREAT. Especially if people regard them as brilliant visionaries. But sooner or later that energy usually does go drastically sideways in sudden and embarrassing ways.

  38. ZenB!tch says:

    I know I’m “unique” but I found the video annoying. It was simplistic, condescending and frankly rather sexist. Him, his boy, the boys in Africa with a one line mention of girls who became sex slaves or “wives” of the “warriors”. Here comes the great white hope to rescue the poor helpless blacks.

    Thankfully several female victims and African activists spoke of their plight to CNN and other news outlets. And yes, they confirmed Kony was long gone.

    Uganda has had and continues to have a lot of problems but it seems Kony is no longer one of them.

    Looks like a psychotic break to me.

    • Cirque28 says:

      Yep. I’m sorry to everyone who accepted that video with sincerity, because I know your hearts were in the right place, But honestly, Kony 2012 made me embarrassed to be a US citizen.

      Don’t worry, Africa, we will fix everything! How many times can I show my own face in 29 minutes?

  39. SantaRosa says:

    Having done a massive amount of various kinds of drugs in my life,(weed,coke, crystal,ecstasy,oxy,LSD,mushrooms,Ketamine,GHB and whatnot)I can say that, having viewed the video multiple times, this guy was NOT on drugs. The thing is-he probably should be on some drugs. The clapping and cursing and all that look an awful lot like schizophrenia. He probably has it under control much of the time, and recent events and neglect of medication brought it out. But PLEASE, the “dehydration” excuse insults one’s intelligence! This guy has some pretty serious mental health issues, and this probably wasn’t the first “break.” That being said, I thought the Invisible Children movie was incredibly moving, so I admire this guy’s work. Of course, I also found his naked video pretty effective as well. I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure.

  40. Maritza says:

    He probably hasn’t been able to sleep having read all the negative comments people make, that comes with fame. I don’t think he expected so much attention. I believe it’s lack of sleep combined possibly with bipolar syndrome. Poor guy, I wish him well.

  41. impppy says:

    @WillNilly please stop trying to defend marijuana, you are making us pot heads look terrible with your wretched grammar and shitty ‘facts’.

  42. Luffy says:

    He’s gay why does he have a wife?

  43. Zoe says:

    Oy vey, they’re making the situation worse because they aren’t telling the truth. In a world of liars & press agents, telling the truth is humbling and respectful. Treats the public like they’re intelligent adults.The public forgives truth-tellers because its rare and authentic.

  44. xxx says:

    I would believe it if he had a bipolar illness, I have someone bipolar close to me and I know one can have psychotic breaks a lot like that one. He is absolutely manic that’s for sure. More likely it is drugs but if he is bipolar it would be much nicer if those around him just said he had emotional issues.
    The reason (besides the video) drugs come to mind is that the pr agent & wife are using the usual exhaustion excuse.
    I know that people on drug binges also pull their clothes off and walk naked, i hear stories of people that have done that on coke and saw it on the local news as well

  45. Briamatia says:

    I know this is not going to be received well, but what about a curse or spell. I KNOW I KNOW we are in 2012 and he was in Southern Cali and what have you, but I don’t think we should under estimate the possibility that he himself did not place himself in such a condition. Someone wanted him to loose all of his credibility and the easiest way is by making looking like a freaking psycho. In Uganda, Vodoo and alternative religions are practiced widely.

    Where I am currently living social faith is extremely powerful and have profound effects on life/weather/etc. For instance there is a day of the year that it is said to always rain-hell or high water. And by god it rains every year on that day (I have been living here 6 years), even when previous days were blistering hot. Not sure how it happens but there are powers out there that we have little knowledge and or control. Just sayin.

  46. daisy says:

    this whole bit is pathetic. i hope he gets the help he needs. it must be hard to try to fix something for over a decade that is so wrong..so horrible. yes i know that there’s problems with his plan. just give the kids back? Not if they were made to kill their parents. What about therapy??..no shhh. But is that a reason to poopoo the whole deal? What about insurance? dental care? If they dont get that then f em?? Awww im getting distracted. So, we all have our faults and addictions but i’m pretty sure he’s trying to do something bigger than most people have tried. and im not talking lines or gay men. the lack of…..damn….Positive Human Response… makes me ill. And maybe makes him ill too. alcohol, voodoo, drugs, pills, you name it. I hope that this does not do too much damage to a cause so great. So go on and sip your lattes in yer warm kitchen and type some degrading comments about something that will never affect you. The message should be different and it sucks that this happened.

  47. JCHTX says:

    DEFINITELY GHB OD! Seen it many times.

  48. The Original Mia says:

    I agree. I don’t buy dehydration. I buy either ectasy or marijuana laced with something.

  49. Lily says:

    All I can say… Sashay Away!!! He is just another Kirk Cameron. Full of crap.

  50. Maguita says:

    “That was by far the craziest thing I’ve seen all month”

    … hmmmm, I don’t know where you live, but that is the craziest I’ve witnessed in over a year… True, discounting Kirk Cameron’s crap. But he was just being a hypocrite.

    When I’m dehydrated, I am sent to the emergency for immediate treatment.

    But the first time I’ve tried LSD, yep, you guessed it, I decided that the rain outside in the middle of the night will be the perfect shower. Got my soap, my loofah, and had a conversation with God while attempting to scrub my back. Naked behind my house. Where neighbors can easily see.

    Never took LSD again. Caught a cold. And most importantly, I did not like what God had told me.


  51. Samigirl says:

    You made my day with that. <3 Drag Race!

  52. WillyNilly says:

    While e is a contender, mariguana is NOT. There is no way that he would willingly go outside, let alone go outside NAKED. It could be PCP or K, although with K if you do to much you tend to stay in one spot and I don’t think either of those make you want to get naked.

    My vote: Crack did the same to Whitney but she just didn’t leave the house….remember those Enquirer articles?

  53. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    I vote bath salts.

    @maguita, LOL.

  54. steph m says:

    @maguita your comment made my day. Keep being awesome please.

  55. Maguita says:

    Thanks Steph m ;) Hey, we aim to entertain!