The upcoming CBS show ‘The Activist’ has truly stirred a massive conversation on the internet. Most Twitter users are making some amazing memes on it, while others are calling it ‘performative activism’. Now, an activist whom the show’s creators contacted in the past to participate in the show, has revealed some major issues with the upcoming competition show.
What is The Activist about and why is it getting backlash?
You can call The Activist the American Idol of activism. This CBS original will feature six aspiring activists as participants, who will compete against each other for an appearance at the G20 summit in Italy. Moreover, they will be judged and mentored by hosts Usher, Priyanka Chopra, and Julianne Hough. Furthermore, the participants will undergo challenges, and they’ll be judged on their social media engagement, social media metrics, and the judgment by the hosts. The competition is being done in collaboration with Global Citizen.
As soon as news broke out of The Activist on Twitter, the show immediately received backlash. The Guardian and Forbes even went as far as calling it ‘performative activism’ and Twitter did not shy away from giving the show backlash.
An activist approached by the show’s producer reveals massive flaws with how the show is going to run
On September 11, a Twitter user named Clover Hogan, a 21-year-old climate activist revealed that the producers of the show approached her to appear as a participant. They contacted her with the pretext that they were:
Looking for passionate activists who are actively engaged in making an impact in the areas of environment, health, education, and reducing world hunger.
However, when Hogan asked the purpose of the show, how they were finding activists, if it is a collaboration, and if they would give a platform to marginalized communities, the show’s representatives prevaricated. They kept delaying the response, but eventually, Clover Hogan agreed to an interview with the producer of The Activist. In the interview, she described her journey as a climate activist, beginning from the age of 11. But, the producer wanted more “emotion” from her. Eventually, when Hogan burst into tears after repeating her story several times. It was then that the producer said “PERFECT”.
Later, the producer asked Clover Hogan about her work. However, the producer of The Activist seemed least bothered and told her to “talk like an American”. The producer later told Hogan in the end that this is a competition show between activists competing for resources. Hogan also described the encounter like it was a Black Mirror episode. In the end, she was selected as a participant, but she declined, saying:
They were not interested in the issues – at all. They only wanted a story. & a story manufactured for Hollywood.
You can read her complete thread below:
Another user highlighted that the show is only recognising activism that benefits from businesses
However, that was not the end of the controversy for The Activist. Later, a Twitter user highlighted that one of the participants on the show is the CEO of a company that “swipes out hunger” with the help of charity. Moreover, user revealed that the activist makes around $84,000 and received $63,000 in PPP loans from the help of her company.
By the looks of these details, there seems something inherently wrong about CBS’s The Activist. From the start, the show seems to perpetuate performative activism that generates business opportunities instead of actually focusing on social welfare. And the judges, as valuable as their philanthropic work is, do not reflect the blood, sweat, and self-sacrifice that actual activists engage in throughout their lives. Therefore, these stories only manage to tarnish an already troubled legacy before the show has even hit the screens.