US reality show with Priyanka as host sparks controversy

Washington: ‘Quantico’ actress 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’.

In ‘The Activist’ 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.

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

Ever since the 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.”

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.

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