Children’s TV network Nickelodeon went silent for nearly nine minutes as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But pushing social-justice rhetoric on such a young audience has rubbed many the wrong way.
The channel, owned by Viacom, stopped its transmission for eight minutes and 46 seconds on Tuesday “in support of justice, equality, and human rights,” presenting children with a black screen on which the phrase “I can’t breathe” faded in and out, timed with audio of a person breathing. That spot was preceded by a promotion scrolling Nickelodeon’s “Declaration of Kids’ Rights” over an orange background and a pledge to “stand in solidarity” with “Black colleagues, creators, partners, and audiences” while condemning racism and violence.
The clip finished by urging viewers to “Join @colorofchange and countless others to call on public officials across the country to take real action,” and included a number to text for more information.
Some found it “powerful,” declaring that Nickelodeon had done more than the government and other celebrities by reaching out to young people.
A kid’s network is doing more for our country than the actual government and several big name celebrities. Thank you Nickelodeon for lending a hand in these hard and trying times. pic.twitter.com/VGzNF28imO
— MisAnthro Pony (@MisAnthroPony) June 2, 2020
you’re telling me that nickelodeon is doing more than our government? wow what a time to be alive
— 𝑖𝑛𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑓 𝑒𝑛𝑡ℎ𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑎𝑠𝑡 | bIm (@gng_swift) June 2, 2020
Others were leery of leveling political messaging at kids.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) June 2, 2020
— Carl Quance ⭐⭐⭐ (@CinderellaMan2) June 2, 2020
A few even suggested Nickelodeon was virtue-signaling to cover up its own misdeeds. One of its top producers was quietly let go in 2018, after years of disturbing pedophilia rumors and accusations.
— bluemiiints (@bluemiiints) June 2, 2020
However, many commenters jeered at the parents who took issue with the spot, demanding they “check their privilege and educate their children.”
Let’s be real Karen. You are not upset that #Nickelodeon scared your kid (far scarier shit on tv) you are upset your kid is now asking questions you are not equipped or comfortable answering. Imagine for a second the hard conversations black mothers have with their children.
— Zac #BlackOutTuesday (@zaceubank) June 2, 2020
Nickelodeon showed this on TV last night.Seen some people saying that they shouldn’t have done it because it “might scare children”.If a kids’ TV channel is the first thing to tell your child that they have rights, then I’m scared for them too. https://t.co/4XZ44WDRiw
— Chris Scullion (@scully1888) June 2, 2020
Black kids, they reasoned, have to live with police violence – so why shouldn’t white kids suffer through a nine-minute TV spot?
I really don’t give a fuck about white children being afraid of Nickelodeon’s “I Can Breath” commercial. Black kids are being told they could get MURDERED for just being Black. Stop being a little bitch and tell Tommy why he’s watching it in the first place.
— Kenberly (@CreativelyLilly) June 2, 2020
Black parents have to give their Black children “the talk” from a young age and warn them that they could be killed by police. It is white privilege that shields us from having to know this.What’s scarring is that racism is killing Black people. Be outraged about that.
— Sarah Blahovec (@Sblahov) June 2, 2020
The promotion also aired on MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom channels, and in Canada, too, for some reason. (RT)
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