Widespread criticism has prompted the makers of reality show The Activist to “reimagine” the series as a “documentary special”. To be hosted by Priyanka Chopra, Usher and Julianne Hough – the series was set to focus on six activists pitted against each other in a series of challenges promoting their favored cause. The participating activists’ success was to be measured through their online engagement, social metrics and hosts’ input.
CBS, Live Nation and Global Citizen, in an official statement, said 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,” they said. “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.”
In a separate statement on Instagram, Global Citizen said global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. “We apologize to the activists, hosts and the larger activist community – we got it wrong.”
One of the co-hosts, Julianne Hough, a dancer, said she was listening to the backlash. “I heard you say there was hypocrisy in the show because at the root of activism is a fight against capitalism and the trauma that it causes so many people and that the show itself felt like a shiny capitalistic endeavor. I also heard you say that trying to value one cause over another felt like the Oppression Olympics and totally missed and disrespected the many activists who have been killed, assaulted and faced various abuses fighting for their causes,” she said. “Because of this, there is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt. I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”