UPDATE, 8:00 p.m. Thursday: Melissa McCarthy has apologized for the donation to Exodus Cry, which she says “stands for everything that we do not.” She said the donation has also been revoked, and in a separate statement HBO Max confirmed this. Read more here.
Original post, 4:27 p.m. Thursday: 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, a rep for McCarthy and Exodus Cry for comment. We did not immediately hear back. But the group’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
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.