Even as CBS and Global Citizen-produced reality show The Activist, which pitted activists against each other in front of a panel of celebrity judges, itself became the target of online activism and got engulfed in a PR firestorm, one of the judges has apologized for the format that has now undergone a change.
Actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, one of the celebrity judges on the show, on Friday issued an apology over her participation in the competition series The Activist after widespread backlash and said the criticism against the show was “heard” and accepted by her, PTI reported from Mumbai.
On the show, the success of the participants would have been judged on the basis of their social media campaigns.
After the show was unveiled, there was an instant backlash on social media with many people labelling the series as insensitive and tone-deaf. Some called the show’s concept a “dystopian” celebration of “Insta-activism”.
Priyanka, American singer-songwriter Usher and Dancing with the Starsstar Julianne Hough were cast as the celebrity judges on the reality show.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Priyanka said the show’s aim was to bring spotlight on activists who tirelessly work for a cause they are passionate about but admitted that the format was “wrong”.
“I have been moved by the power of your voices over the past week. At its core, activism is fuelled by cause and effect, and when people come together to raise their voice about something, there is always an effect. You were heard.
“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you. The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, American network CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation said that they were changing the format of The Activist as a one-time documentary special instead of a five-episode competition series.
Priyanka said she is happy that in the new format, the stories of the activists “will be the highlight”.
“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she said.
The 39-year-old actor said there is a global community of activists who “fight the fight” every day— putting their blood, sweat and tears into creating change — but are rarely acknowledged.
“Their work is so important and they too deserve to be recognised and celebrated. Thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do,” she added.
The series was earlier set to premiere on October 22, but with the competitive elements now removed, the makers will announce a new release date soon as the show needs major re-shooting.