While a little healthy competition is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and breed a fruitful outcome, it appears that the creators of the upcoming Global Citizen reality TV show The Activist may have taken this advice to the extreme.
The five-week CBS series will see ‘activists’ facing challenges to bring attention to their causes on screen. With Priyanka Chopra, Usher and Julianne Hough acting as judges, six international activists will be pitted against each other to determine which activist and their related cause are worthy of a prize. The activists’ success will be measured via their level of engagement on social media. The winning activist will get the opportunity to travel to Rome for the G20 summit, where they will have a chance to meet with world leaders and secure funding for their causes. In an effort to marry entertainment with activism, the finale of the show will be a compendium of song and dance featuring prominent celebrities.
The announcement of the show was met with instant backlash by netizens, celebrities and other activists. Criticising the show for its exploitation of struggles for social justice, actor and activist Jameela Jamil retweeted a news article on the show, commenting on how the celebrity judges would have been paid an exorbitant amount of money to be a part of the show. She wrote, “Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this unbelievably expensive talent and make this show directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game and then giving a fraction of the much-needed money away in a ‘prize’? People are dying.”
Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this UNBELIEVABLY expensive talent and make this show, directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game and then giving a fraction of the much needed money away in a “prize…?” People are dying. https://t.co/GLCUZcGgfb— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) September 10, 2021
Fashion watchdog Diet Prada also reported on the show, mocking the concept by comparing it with the infamous Kendal Jenner Pepsi commercial, where the model hands a can of Pepsi to a cop at a protest, leading to the crowd erupting in cheers. “Is Pepsi a sponsor? Will Kendall Jenner be a guest judge?” read part of the lengthy post.
Global Citizen has since responded to the backlash. Speaking to Deadline, a spokesperson shared, “The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities.”
They added further, “This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.”
The show will premiere on October 22 on CBS.
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