HBO Max took a drubbing on social media after it was reported that the streaming service gave $20,000 to a group with a history of harsh anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion stances as part of the “20 Days of Kindness” campaign to promote Melissa McCarthy’s film “Superintelligence.”
The group in question is Exodus Cry, a Sacramento-based Christian organization that describes itself as “committed to abolishing sex trafficking and breaking the cycle of commercial sexual exploitation.”
However, according to The Daily Beast, the group’s CEO Benjamin Nolot, who also wrote and directed the Netflix documentary film “Liberated,” has a history of inflammatory rhetoric towards homosexuals and abortion. Nolot once referred to homosexuality as “an unspeakable offense to God” and compared abortion to the Holocaust. Nolot has said that his views on LGBTQ have “evolved” more recently and that he advocates “for the right of all people to be free from all forms of oppression.”
The evangelical group has presented itself as an “anti-sex-trafficking organization,” but, per the mission statement laid out in their 2018 tax returns (according to The Daily Beast’s reporting), wants to ultimately abolish the sex work industry entirely. Specifically, Exodus Cry has targeted the adult entertainment website PornHub, which it has accused of proliferating in sex-trafficking.
TheWrap has asked HBO Max and a rep for McCarthy. We did not immediately hear back. Exodus Cry’s positions on sex work, along with its anti-gay and anti-woman stances, had a lot of people crying foul. See a sampling of those complaints below.
— Asa Akira (@AsaAkira) November 12, 2020
— Katy Stoll (@katystoll) November 12, 2020
— Ung Lamb (@UngLamb) November 12, 2020
In a statement to TheWrap, Exodus Cry said The Daily Beast’s reporting was “factually inaccurate and intentionally misleading.”
“In recent months some misinformation has been spread about Exodus Cry and we would like to address that with the truth about who we are and what we stand for,” the group said. “Exodus Cry has been on the frontlines combatting sex trafficking for over a decade and we have broad support from, and partnerships with, hundreds of organizations around the world who are advocating for the protection of men, women, and children from the injustice of commercial sexual exploitation.”
This week, HBO Max announced a holiday-themed promotion surrounding McCarthy’s upcoming film “Superintelligence” for the streaming service. The campaign “will highlight and donate $20K to a different good cause daily for 20 days while encouraging others to lend their support along the way” according to HBO Max. Among the other groups listed are Planned Parenthood, Make-A-Wish, Human Rights Campaign, Girls Who Code and The Trevor Project.