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CBS launches ‘The Activist’ reality show to crown the world’s best social justice warrior — and critics are tearing it shreds

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It hasn’t even aired a trailer yet, but critics from across the political spectrum are already condemning a new CBS competition series that aims to crown the world’s best social justice awareness-raiser.

What are the details?

“The Activist,” a five-week reality series produced by Global Citizen, set to air Oct. 22, is being heralded by showrunners as “a first-of-its-kind competition series that will inspire real change.”

According to Deadline, it will feature “six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education, and environment.”

The activists will “go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input,” Deadline continued. “The three teams have one ultimate goal: to create impactful movements that amplify their message, drive action, and advance them to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy.”

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But no activist cause could be truly successful without the assistance of a star-studded cast of Hollywood celebrities, right? And so with that in mind, CBS tasked Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough to come alongside the activists as series co-hosts.

“One thing seems more clear than ever: Planet Earth is a singular village, demanding if not relying on individual engagement. From the Global Citizen movement comes an awe-inspiring look at what can come of it,” reads a promotional brief on the show’s CBS.com page.

How have people reacted?

News of the show’s launch was immediately met with backlash from critics online, many calling it “dystopian” and suggesting it be canceled before the first episode airs. Here are some of the best responses:

  • “Yikes! How f**king dystopian,” one commenter wrote.
  • “What did I just read…,” another added.
  • “You could’ve had a lovely feel good show focusing on the activism of others and highlighting issues plaguing us. But i get that wasn’t salacious enough so they made a show where activists battle each other,” another said.
  • One commenter simply said, “Cancel it.”
  • “Could we perhaps do something less horrifyingly dystopian, like maybe just force political dissidents or representatives of an oppressed underclass into death matches on live TV?” someone pleaded.
  • “Seriously,” another responded, who added, “We are heading into ‘The Running Man’ & ‘The Hunger Games’ territory with shows like this.”
  • “Real activism shouldn’t be treated like a game show,” another wrote. “All of those issues are important and should already have your attention! Y’all just love turning anything into a spectacle. Not feeling this.”
  • “Maybe people can create impactful movements without it having to be a competition,” someone suggested.
  • “Ridiculous. If people have good causes and are working to impact the world simply give them the money to help them. A competition? I can’t,” another added.
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Several commenters — including feminist actress Jameela Jamil and public defender Scott Hechinger — similarly suggested that an activism competition show isn’t needed and that wealthy production companies should just give millions of dollars to activist causes already underway.

Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this UNBELIEVABLY expensive talent and make this show,… https://t.co/6C5mNlbcCu

— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) 1631244650.0

Climate justice professor Naomi Klein tweeted, “I’m confused: Is this an advanced Marxist critique to expose how competition for money and attention pits activists against each other + undermines deep change? Or just the end of the world?”

I’m confused: Is this an advanced Marxist critique to expose how competition for money and attention pits activists… https://t.co/0czrovBm9y

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) 1631217052.0

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