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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Explained: What is the outrage about Priyanka Chopra’s new show, The Activist?

Priyanka Chopra, Usher and Julianne Hough are facing criticism online after being cast as judges on a reality show titled 'The Activist'. What is the controversy about, and what happens now?

Written by Ektaa Malik , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 16, 2021 7:23:22 am
The Activist, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Priyanka Chopra Activist, The Activist controversy, The Activist TV show, Indian ExpressPriyanka Chopra Jonas (AP Photo/File)

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, multiple-Grammy winning singer-songwriter Usher, and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ star Julianne Hough are facing criticism online after they were cast as judges on a new reality show titled ‘The Activist’. What’s the controversy about?

What is ‘The Activist’, which Priyanka Chopra Jonas is part of?

‘The Activist’ is a reality show on which six contestants, divided into three teams of two each, will fight for their chosen ‘cause’. Each team will be aided by one of the show’s famous hosts.

The activist teams will compete in tasks and challenges, and promote their chosen ‘causes’. The reward for bringing the ‘cause’ to fruition will be measured by online engagement, social metrics, and the hosts’ inputs.

Whose idea was it?

The show’s concept is from Global Citizen, the website that brought Coldplay to Mumbai in 2016.

They call themselves “a movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030. On our platform, Global Citizens learn about the systemic causes of extreme poverty, take action on those issues, and earn rewards for their actions — as part of a global community committed to lasting change.”

Global Citizen has got the support of stars like Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay Z, and Chris Martin in the past.

Why are people angry?

Ever since news about ‘The Activist’ broke, social media has been flooded with criticism about the concept of the show, and of the three judges. There have been brutal takedowns, as well as some genuine questions about the premise of the show, and what it sought to achieve.

The show has received flak for its “elite”, “capitalist” and “business-minded” approach, and some have called it “dystopian” and “removed from reality”.

Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto wrote on Twitter: “The good news is that no actual activists would be caught dead on this show”. British actor Jameela Jamil tweeted: “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.”

Georgia Democratic politician Nabilah Islam said: “Fighting for issues is tough enough without having to dance and sing for a bunch of millionaires while they decide who’s worthy of their crumbs. Who ever thought this was a good idea should take a f — seat.”

So what happens now?

Nothing, so far. The outrage and criticism notwithstanding, there are no reports that the makers of the show are having a rethink about it.

The show will be broadcast over five weeks starting in October. The names of the six contestants aren’t known yet.

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