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‘Read the Room’: People Aren’t Happy About New Activist Competition Show with Usher

CBS, which has created reality shows, including “Big Brother” and “the Price is Right,” has a new competition series coming out this fall, and folks on social media don’t know what to make of it. 

Produced by Global Citizen, the new activism-styled contest series titled “The Activist” has been greenlighted and will feature three celebrity co-hosts, comprising Grammy Award-winning entertainer Usher Raymond, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and “Dancing with the Stars” alum Julianne Hough. 

(L-R) Julianne Hough, Usher, and Priyanka Chopra come under fire after it was announced that they will be co-hosting “The Activist,” an activism competition show. Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia, Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp

According to a press release from the network, during the show’s duration, six activists will compete against each other to promote and “bring meaningful change to one of the three urgent universal causes: health, education, and environment,” the release read. 

Furthermore, “The activists will compete in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events aimed at garnering the attention of the world’s most powerful decision-makers, demanding action, now.” 

Jack Sussman, executive vice president, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming for CBS, said of the show, “Combining philanthropy and entertainment, ‘The Activist’ is a ground-breaking series poised to inspire viewers.” However, not everyone on social media felt the same way. 

Many critics accused the shows of exploiting philanthropy and activism, including Canadian social activist Naomi Klein who wrote on Twitter, “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?”

Actress Jameela Jamil questioned, “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.”

“like yea using activism as a competition where it is funneled into social media influence is absolutely abhorrent and completely dilutes the importance and impacts of organizing and grassroots effors but also remember when priyanka chopra asked an activist if she was done venting,” commented a third Twitter user.  

A fourth person pointed out the dangers that come with being an activist, stating, “While y’all think that the label “activist” has these woke and hashtag-worthy status, real activists doing REAL activism work are being gunned down by their governments in the Philippines, India, and other oppressive govts.” That person added, “Read the room @Usher, @priyankachopra, @juliannehough.”

Participants’ success will be based on online engagement. Their goal is to advance to the G-20 Summit in Rome. The conference, which is held at least once a year, is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union. Together, members work to address significant global economic issues, such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation and sustainable development. The show is set to premiere on CBS on Oct. 22. 


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