Saturday, December 4

The rise of performative activism has reached reality shows, but it is not all bad | Arwa mahdawi


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All hail the Activist Industrial Complex

It seems the revolution will be televised after all: a new reality show called The Activist will arrive in the United States next month. Produced by Global Citizen, it is essentially a social justice twist on The Apprentice or The Voice: six activists fight to advance their causes in front of a panel of famous judges. The winning team will be able to go to the G20 Summit in Italy where, according to the press release, they will try to get “funding and invaluable awareness for their causes.” According to the CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, the show is an “unprecedented example of how entertainment can change the world.”

Is really? Because to me it sounds more like the latest example of how “changing the world” has turned into mindless entertainment. It sounds to me like the inevitable result of the rise of performative activism and the proliferation of famous activists. And I’m not exactly the only one who doesn’t feel particularly empowered or inspired by the premise of The Activist. The news of the show has not gone very well with a number of activists, who have questioned how useful it is to confront causes with each other.

One of my main problems with the show: an opinion that, to be fair, is based only in the press release – is the fact that it seems to reduce activism to the viral it can become on social media. According to the press release, “The success of competing activists is measured through online participation, social metrics, and host input.” That’s an incredibly useless way of thinking about how to go about building effective movements. Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, writes extensively about this in her must-read book The Purpose of Power. One of the main messages of Garza’s book is that there is no quick and easy way to build a “movement.” You can’t tweet and TikTok to reach a better world, you have to put in the effort. That requires a grassroots organization; it takes the kind of work that doesn’t immediately turn it into a great reality TV show.

Another thing that doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the series is the panel of famous judges: Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough. What exactly qualifies them to advise activists on what an effective campaign looks like? Chopra Jones, in particular, has been the subject of quite a bit of controversy. In 2019 she was criticized for tweeting her support for the Indian armed forces after they carried out airstrikes in Pakistan; at that time she was a UNICEF peace ambassador. The actress also welcomed Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, at her luxurious wedding in 2018. Modi is an unusual friend to someone who considers himself an authority on activism – his militant Hindu nationalism, for example, has made India a very popular country. dangerous place to be muslim. Modi has also been dismantling democracy in India: this year Sweden’s V-Dem Institute, a research institute that produces an Annual Report on Democracy, downgrading of India’s ranking from the “largest democracy in the world” to the “electoral autocracy.” But all of that probably doesn’t bother Chopra Jonas too much. In a 2019 interview, she said that she considers herself “apolitical as much as I can be. I’d rather be humanitarian. “If you think humanitarianism can be apolitical, you don’t have to call yourself humanitarian.

Perhaps the worst thing about The Activist, however, is the social justice capitalism it represents. Like feminism, activism has been consumed by the corporate world. It has been given a brilliant shine; it had its revolutionary edges removed. Business feminism undermines structural change by focusing on individual empowerment. Social justice capitalism, or “awakening,” is similar. Sell ​​the convenient lie that you can change the world without fundamentally changing your habits. Divide the individual “causes” from the underlying exploitation structures. Pretend you can be humanitarian while being apolitical.

Anyway, all that said, I don’t want to criticize The Activist too much. Yes, it looks a lot like bland clicktivism. Yes, it is led by someone who thinks it’s cool to invite an authoritarian to your wedding. But you know? As gross as it is, the show is also a sign of progress. While business activism is problematic, the fact that social justice has gone mainstream and activism is aspirational is ultimately something to celebrate.

Karens unite against the stigma of the name

Speaking of online activism … nearly 2,000 Karens who are, understandably, fed up with their name being a joke, have joined a private Facebook group called “Karens United”. Karen Club’s first rule? Before they can tell you, they will need to speak to their manager.

Now there are ‘butler cafes’ in China that allow you to rent from a ‘man who really listens’

For $ 60 per session You can be served by a handsome man who brings you drinks and listens to your anecdotes. The concept is a huge success, apparently.

Abortion is no longer a crime in Mexico

The Supreme Court’s decision to criminalize abortion is a huge issue. But that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly becomes easy to get one.

Angela Merkel finally calls herself a feminist

The German Chancellor has been asked if she has been a feminist for years. Now, during an event with writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she finally ‘confessed. It seems that the fact that he is leaving office imminently means that he can admit to such outrageous things!

France to offer free contraception to women under 25

Liberty! Equality! No imminent motherhood! (I know, I know, but I’m afraid it was the best joke I could think of.) Do you know what a real joke is? The fact that in the US, various employers can use religious objection to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

UK mom earns over $ 254,000 after employer refuses to finish at 5pm

A court has ruled that she suffered indirect sexual discrimination.

Australia just held a national summit on women’s safety

While that is certainly commendableWhy is so much attention always paid to the safety of women instead of male violence? “I wonder how the discussions would change if instead of a #WomensSafetySummit, we had a #MensViolenceSummit?” author Jess Hill wondered on Twitter. “Genuine question. How would our perspectives and solutions change if we put men’s violence to the fore? “

The week at Petersburgarchy

Do you think the recall elections in California are a disaster? Boris Vishnevsky, a Russian politician who wants to keep his seat in the St. Petersburg legislature, faces two rivals with exactly the same name and facial hair as him. This is not a strange coincidence, it is an attempt to undermine it. Vishnevsky claims that the other two Boris Vishnevskys changed their names and altered their appearance to confuse voters. They may be corrupt, but they certainly get points for their creativity.

Arwa Mahdawi’s new book, Strong Female Lead, is Available for pre-order.




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