You guys! MTV is about to go dark for 17 minutes

Roughly forty minutes after the publication of this article, MTV and a group of other Viacom channels will be going dark for seventeen minutes in a move designed to support the student walkout planned for 10:00 eastern time this morning. Students at the Florida school which suffered the mass shooting one month ago will be joined by other schools around the country. In a sign of solidarity, television screens tuned to these channels will go off the air. (Billboard)

MTV’s regularly scheduled programming will go dark for 17 minutes on March 14, at 10am EST, in tandem with the National School Walkout. The gesture is a tribute to the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting. During this time, MTV will spotlight 17 young people who are leading the fight against gun violence across the country.

The global youth brand will also honor the initiative across its social media platforms, with students at different school walkouts taking over MTV’s Facebook stories, Instagram stories, Snapchat and their Look Different (@LookDifferent) Twitter account.

Viacom sent out a separate announcement by email providing details of this plan. Beyond MTV, the blackout will also hit on BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land, and CMT. This plan also apparently includes… a logo change!

Logo Change: MTV, MTV2, MTVU and MTV Live will change their linear and digital logos to orange to bridge the 10-day gap between the Walkout and the March for Our Lives.”

Well, that puts things in a different light. I wasn’t sure how much of an effect this was going to have, but if you’re going to paint your logos orange for ten days we should have this gun violence problem licked in no time. Oh, and MTV also has a special website set up to cover the subject, simply titled, “Enough.”

Amazingly, MTV continues to hold a decent audience share, despite the fact that I don’t recall seeing them playing any music videos since some time in the nineties. Just in terms of full disclosure, I do still watch the channel occasionally when they run a marathon of Ridiculousness. It’s one of those humorous clip shows where they mostly feature #FAIL videos of people injuring themselves or otherwise acting in a silly fashion.

Actually, I see nothing wrong with this, either in terms of the students at the participating schools or Viacom’s choice to go dark. If privately owned stations want to make this sort of statement and sacrifice their ad revenue for that block of time they are free to make that choice. As for the students, a walkout of less than 20 minutes isn’t all that much of a disruption and we shouldn’t be squelching the idea of young people holding a peaceful demonstration on a matter of national policy.

Of course, not all of them will be able to do this without consequence. There are a number of schools planning disciplinary action for students who participate in this effort. But that’s also part of the social contract. Sometimes when you engage in peaceful protest and disrupt the normal order of things (even in a minor fashion) there are consequences for your actions. If you’re willing to pay that price in order to make your voice heard it’s a good lesson for the challenges you’ll face as an adult.

Will this demonstration (and loss of twenty minutes of Catfish: The TV Show) make any difference in terms of new gun control laws? Color me skeptical at best. But that doesn’t mean we should squelch young voices engaged in organized free speech efforts, even if they seem to be misguided or overly influenced by liberal parenting. Remember, we protect all speech, not just the voices we agree with.