No Followers, No Empathy
Picture this: Three mainstream celebrities, millionaires set to make more money. A group of activists pit against each other to get their causes funded. This begs the question, what is the cause these activists are championing for? The glitzy sets, perfect hair and makeup with designer wardrobes overshadow the very reason those contestants became activists, to begin with.
Americans are known for making reality shows on virtually everything, but this is a new low, even for them. Even though the show has given up its competition format and will now be a documentary, it is still important to talk about how this idea even came into existence. By discussing this absurd concept we are reclaiming the dystopia. Amplifying the injustice faced by the have nots.
The show would’ve started with six of them divided into three teams and competing on the themes of environment, health and education. Imagine having to create binaries and be naive enough to think that there is simply no intersectionality between them. This show will eventually thrive on the negative publicity it gets. It will get Twitter threads, hashtags cancelling it and most importantly, the attention they demand of the woke Gen-Z, all without spending an extra penny on marketing. That’s how problematic this show is, just the very idea of its existence.
What was even more baffling is the panel of judges which includes Usher, for some reason, and the ever politically correct PeeCee. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Usher. For his music. When it comes to Priyanka Chopra, well. Doing presentable work for goodwill isn’t enough when you support the fascist dictator of your country. A lot of us lost respect for her the day she decided to join the Modi bandwagon in Bollywood.
This highlights two issues. The tone-deaf notion that real activists don’t have the mettle to add anything to the show, they’re simply incapable of matching that Hollywood image. Secondly, the idea that unless they don’t conform to this image, they’re not worthy of getting a platform and a million-dollar set in a studio in downtown LA. The root of the issue lies in the fact that capitalist cronies need to create such a show to propel activists to the G20 Summit; in the fact that until and unless I don’t get my TRP’s I will not back a cause that could possibly aid thousands of students with their access to education. I’m quirky that way. Oh and who else is backing this? Global Citizen. Yes, the same charity that wanted to eradicate poverty by getting Coldplay to India and leaving a dumpster behind. Yes, it is the same organisation that is funded by the IMF and World Bank, known for propagating their capitalist propaganda by pushing the Global South into debt traps.
The metric of a good and credible activist in this show was based on their social media reach- the breeding ground of tokenistic activism. My advocacy of the cause more often than not depends on how well I know the Instagram algorithm. This plot insults the work of volunteers all around the world who have spent their entire lives on something they truly believe in. For them, their work matters more than IGTV’s and reels. For so many of them, Instagram hasn't even fully penetrated their lives yet. This show furthers a narrative that a social media presence matters or else you don’t and are simply not relevant enough. Yes. It really is as privileged as it sounds. You live under a false assumption that this race is between equals. Your work doesn’t deserve recognition if it has no commercial appeal. If I can't commodify you and make money off of you, am I even a white capitalist producer? My conscience doesn’t care about the fact that I am gamifying basic, rudimentary human rights. Neither do I.
What happens at the end of it all? You end up believing in something you were made to believe in. This is the very crux of the capitalist reality show biz. Ten minutes into the “documentary”, no one is going to care about climate change (not that anyone does even before that but you know what I mean), people are going to pick their favourites and move on once they’ve binge-watched all of it.
Activism at its core involves facilitating change at the ground level and this show is as superficial as it gets.