Last week, CBS announced their newest upcoming reality show, set to air next month: The Activist. The show would run in a similar manner to X-Factor, pitting multiple campaigners against one another in competition for an opportunity to lobby the world’s leaders at the next G20 summit. If you think that treating a rather serious practice like activism as a game show is a bit insensitive, you wouldn’t be the only one. Following the announcement of The Activist, CBS was hit with a wave of backlash from actual activists and campaigners, with the nicest label they could offer the show being “tone-deaf.”
After a week of spiciness, CBS has decided it would probably be for the best to back down and retool. The instigating event was when one of the celebrities lined up to judge the show joined in on the backlash and admitted they were not qualified to weigh in on such a concept. The show’s producer, international advocacy organization Global Citizen, admitted they messed up in a statement.
“Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologise to the activists, hosts and the larger activist community – we got it wrong.”
“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,” Global Citizen said in a joint statement with CBS.
#TheActivist, a competition series hosted by Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Chopra Jonas that had itself become the target of online activism, is being reconfigured in response to a firestorm of criticism. https://t.co/cjwnTrInsg pic.twitter.com/VZ4ERyANeP
— Variety (@Variety) September 16, 2021
“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.”
The show will be reworked from a competitive reality show to a documentary detailing the “tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in.”