Listen: I have no experience in producing TV shows. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
But if a person were to pitch to me an idea for an America’s Next Top Model-style reality TV show where activists and their causes battled it out before a panel of celebrity judges in a competition largely decided through social media clout, I would have been scrambling for a polite way to ask: Bruh, is you crazy?
As we previously reported, CBS announced last week the launch of a five-week series, The Activist, which was set to premiere on Oct. 22 and be hosted by Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough. But after making the announcement with a description of the aforementioned premise, the show got dragged across social media for being a performative dumpster fire of a show idea, which has now caused the show’s producers to come to glory on the fact that trivializing important causes through game show-like completion…maaaaybe wasn’t such a clever idea after all.
So now, according to Variety, the show is being reconfigured into something more tasteful and less worthy of the question: “Boo-boo, what is you doin’?”
In a joint statement, CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation announced a change in the show’s format saying, “‘The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.” (Well, duh.)
“As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced),” the statement continued. “t will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”
It’s unclear if Usher, Jonas and Hough will still be involved in the project, but CBS, along with its producing partners, continued its mea culpa by apologizing to “to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community” saying simply, “We got it wrong.”
In fact, Hough herself offered fans an apology and explanation for her involvement in a lengthy four-part Instagram post where she assured the show’s detractors that she “heard you say that the show was performative, promoted pseudo-activism over real activism, felt tone-deaf, like ‘Black Mirror’/’The Hunger Games,’ and that the hosts weren’t qualified to assess activism because we are celebrities and not activists.”
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she continued. “I do not have all the answers yet. I’ve shared your concerns as well as my own with the powers that be, who I believe have listened. I have faith and confidence in the beautiful people that I’ve worked with will make the right choice and do the right thing moving forward. Not just for the show, but for the greater good.”
She also apologized once again for an unfortunate Blackface incident in 2015, because that also got brought up in the firestorm response to the show’s announcement.
Imagine taking an L like this because no one involved with the show could foresee the backlash.
I mean, who could possibly see this coming?
Bruh, everybody. Everybody saw this coming.
CBS, NBC And Mainstream Media's Never-ending Struggle With Race And Diversity
1. Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone
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Failing to hire black journalists is not some sort of benign omission. It isn’t about the lack of candidates or professional networks—or whatever excuse news executives make for their racism or their laziness. It is a choice, and networks and publications keep paying for it.— Jamil Smith جميل كريم (@JamilSmith) January 13, 2019
2. Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post2 of 10
3. Yamiche Alcindor, PBS NewsHour
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How dare you type “many black people have no interest in journalism.” Where is your evidence? Your conversation with yourself in your bubble of ignorance? Please get educated and realize @NABJ exists because black people are interested in and highly qualified at journalism. https://t.co/RP9fkHCkBG— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 14, 2019
4. Sarah Glover, NABJ president
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Will you be adding additional team members? https://t.co/jW92w2B7I2— Sarah Glover (@sarah4nabj) January 12, 2019
5. Marlon A. Walker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Obvious explanation? Do your research.— Marlon A. Walker (@marlonawalker) January 14, 2019
More than 20 percent of j-school graduates are people of color. Less than half of them find jobs in the field.
More than two-thirds of white j-school graduates find jobs. #MediaDiversity #DiversityMatters https://t.co/RvEDZoD9O5
6. Jamilah Lemieux, cultural critic
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Y’all are arguing about Black people and journalism with someone who probably calls us “niggers” daily, please stop— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) January 14, 2019
7. Tiffany Cross, The Beat DC
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Honestly, it's not just #CBS. People of color are frequently challenged in ALL news spaces. How many ordinary non-POC enjoy large platforms while EXTRAORDINARY POC fight for a seat at the table? From cable news outlets to newspaper bylines. It runs deep. https://t.co/yJS5jfmPkp pic.twitter.com/3mfkAZRBC2— @tiffanydcross (@TiffanyDCross) January 14, 2019
8. Soraya McDonald, The Undefeated8 of 10
9. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
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So... what you’re saying is that in a campaign in which voter suppression and racial attitudes are expected to play a huge role you will have zero black journalists covering it? https://t.co/6Sh2LQl2Xs— jelani cobb (@jelani9) January 13, 2019
10. Shanita Hubbard10 of 10
Everybody Saw This Coming: CBS Revamps Tone-Deaf ‘Activist’ Reality TV Show Contest … Because, Duh was originally published on newsone.com