The Activist and Commodity Activism

Conference Presentation


Sedgwick, C. 2022. The Activist and Commodity Activism . The Sociologies of Reality TV, University of Sheffield.
AuthorsSedgwick, C.
TypeConference Presentation
Abstract

In 2021 American network CBS announced new series The Activist in conjunction with Global Citizen, ‘an international advocacy organisation dedicated to ending extreme poverty’ (Davies, 2021). Using a competition format, the show’s contestants would talk part in challenges before attending a summit of world leaders. However, the backlash to the show was swift, especially on social media platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. This is ironic given that the show was framed around ‘insta- activism’ and social media savvy activists. Mukherjee and Banet- Weiser (2012) discuss the rise of celebrity activism as part of the commodification of activism in neoliberal societies where there is a declining welfare state. The original concept of The Activist fits within this mould, a CBS executive described the show as ‘combining philanthropy and entertainment’ (CBS, 2021) and images of the celebrity judges featured prominently.
This paper will discuss how pre- release materials on the show constructed activism as entertainment, and how this reflects a neoliberal sensibility that encourages ‘entrepreneurial activism’ (Brough, 2012: 176). In contrast, the paper will explore what the negative response to the show on social media says about the ways in which activism is being framed in the present moment. In particular, the paper will focus on responses on Tik Tok, where responses to The Activist ranged from serious critiques to satirical sketches about the show. The paper will explore the extent to which these responses show a rejection to commodified celebrity activism and what the implications of this might be.

KeywordsReality TV; Social Media ; celebrity activism
Year2022
ConferenceThe Sociologies of Reality TV, University of Sheffield
Output statusPublished
Publication dates2022
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Sep 2022
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/98y96/the-activist-and-commodity-activism

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