After facing intense global backlash, producers of the upcoming reality series have decided to revamp The Activist, with the show now taking the form of a documentary special.
According to Variety, as opposed to being a five-episode competition, it will not only be a one-time documentary. Some scenes for the previous iteration of The Activist have already been shot, but filming is expected to begin from scratch for the new version.
The show, which had roped in Priyanka Chopra, Julianne Hough and Usher as judges, has faced major criticism for glamorising activism and turning it into a capitalist endeavour. CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation have released a joint statement announcing the plans to revamp the show. It read, “The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
“As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special,” continued the statement, sharing that the new release date is yet to be announced.
Revealing that the new documentary special will focus on the activism and the commitment of the activists to their respective causes, it added further, “It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”
The statement concluded, “Activists and community leaders around the world work every day, often without fanfare, to advance protections for people, communities, and our planet. We hope that by showcasing their work we will inspire more people to become more involved in addressing the world’s most pressing issues. We look forward to highlighting the mission and lives of each of these incredible people.”
Actor Priyanka Chopra also took to Instagram to address the controversy surrounding the show, agreeing with the criticism of The Activist and apologising for her involvement in it.
She wrote in a detailed post, “I have been moved by the power of your voices over the past week. At its core, activism is fuelled by cause and effect, and when people come together to raise their voice about something, there is always an effect. You were heard.”
She continued, sharing her original intentions and explaining that the show is set to be revamped. Chopra wrote, “The show got it wrong, and I'm sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you. The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I'm happy to know that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight, and I'm proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it's time to hit pause and re-evaluate."
Praising on-ground activists, the actor concluded, "There is a global community of activists who fight the fight every single day and put their blood, sweat and tears into creating change, but more often than not, they are rarely heard or acknowledged. Their work is so important and they too deserve to be recognised and celebrated. Thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do."
The actor’s statements come after co-judge Julianne Hough took to social media to express regret over the tone-deaf nature of the show, sharing that she understands and accepts the backlash. Agreeing with the comments on how she is not qualified to judge the show, the actor said, “I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and, furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”
Criticising the show for its exploitation of struggles for social justice, actor and activist Jameela Jamil previously 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.”
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