‘The Activist’ was rightfully cancelled

The proposed show highlights the prevalence of performative activism    

'The Activist' was reconfigured into a documentary after intense backlash.
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When I first heard about the launch of a new show called The Activist, I thought it was a joke. Within days of the hosts being announced, a swift firestorm of backlash was catalyzed, and CBS decided to reconfigure the proposed show into a one-time documentary special. 
 
 
Though the intention of the show may have been to start conversations about activism and highlight prevalent social issues, it was undeniably tone-deaf. Making activists face off against each other with the glamour of Hollywood twinkling in the background cheapens the very nature and need for activism. 
 
It’s also clearly offensive to the activists who, throughout history, have risked their lives for causes like emancipation from slavery, women’s rights, and access to education. 
 
Pushing for global change isn’t a competition, and the grassroots activists who are consistently empowering their communities and doing vital work are completely disregarded in favour of an entertaining competition. Moreover, the hundreds of thousands of dollars used to shoot and produce the show could be donated to various charities and NGOs to actually invest in meaningful change. 
 
The Activist is an affront to the work done by people like Sojourner Truth, and I can only imagine what Malala and Amal Clooney have to say about the 
show’s concept. 
 
The reality TV show was meant to be hosted by Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough. The proposed hosts had one thing in common—none of them are renowned for their advocacy or social justice efforts. 
 
I was most concerned about the selection of Chopra Jonas as one of the show’s frontrunners when considering the controversy surrounding her UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Role. In 2019, Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister asked for Chopra Jonas to be “immediately de-notified” from her role after she publicly endorsed the Indian government’s position in the disrupted region of Kashmir. 
 
When a woman publicly confronted Chopra Jonas about “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” at a beauty conference in Los Angeles, Chopra Jonas’ initial response to Ayesha Malik was, “Whenever you’re done venting […] got it, done? Okay, cool.”
 
The intense backlash against The Activist is justified. We seem to value activism for the wrong reasons, and in the pursuit of performing our 
woke-ness, we forget the real stakes for activists around the world. We forget about torture, about lynching, about murder. CBS’s proposed show is ridiculous in its attempt to highlight activism through the lens of privilege. 
 
A sad truth has been brought to light in the wave of emotions brought about by The Activist. There’s money in the world for the purposes of entertaining viewers and appearing philanthropic, but the money often disappears when grassroots organizations need funds. 
 
Instead of investing in performative competition shows, let’s invest in real activism. 
 

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