NXIVM cult members: Why is there an email campaign against HBO?
HBO received numerous emails from past and present NXIVM members, asking not to be featured in their upcoming documentary The Vow. A nine-part docuseries premiering later this month, The Vow promises viewers a deep-dive into the “female-empowerment” cult’s practices.
The Vow includes a close look at the cognitive dissonance former members experienced. It also features several shops of seminars & workshops that NXIVM members attended. Many of those members now allege that the clips of their faces violate their privacy, so are asking to be removed from the shots.
What’s the purpose of these emails? Are NXIVM members really concerned about their privacy, or are they sending emails to try and derail The Vow’s release last-minute?
How the email campaign began
The Times-Union received a copy of an email template for NXIVM members, directed to HBO. The email includes a statement asking HBO to remove the member’s likeness from production. They begin by mentioning that the trailer for The Vow shows seminars and workshops with multiple NXIVM members in it.
“I did not and do not issue consent for my likeness to be used for commercial purposes, and therefore, I do not consent for HBO to use footage of me for any reason without my prior written permission,” the email reads. The template prompts the sender to forward a picture so HBO can remove it.
Will HBO actually remove people if requested?
Better question, is it legally required that HBO remove NXIVM members if they ask to not be shown in The Vow? The docuseries is days away from release and post-production probably finished months ago. If HBO is legally required to remove NXIVM members who say they don’t consent, that could derail the Vow’s release.
HBO hasn’t been available for comment. However, there’s been no mention of delaying The Vow’s release either.
Is sabotaging The Vow the real goal of NXIVM’s email campaign?
The Vow most likely won’t portray the NXIVM cult in a flattering light. While their portrayal may be nuanced, it’s not intended to promote NXIVM. Both directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer attended Raniere’s trial and heard the evidence that he abused & exploited dozens of members.
Loyal members know that The Vow won’t show NXIVM in a positive way. Therefore, the goal of this email campaign could be to delay its release. If it gets released, NXIVM members may hope they’ll have grounds to sue HBO. It should be noted that former NXIVM members also don’t want their likeness shown, though.
The Vow’s name
The Vow gets its name from an inside nickname for NXIVM’s DOS branch. This was the part of the NXIVM cult where sexual branding, trafficking, and exploitation took place. In NXIVM, it was considered an honor to be a part of this group. Members were responsible for sexually pleasuring leader Keith Raniere, and recruiting other women.
Recruitment for new women into NXIVM was aggressive according to survivors. High-level members like Allison Mack tried to recruit A-list actresses like Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkston over Twitter. Once inside, members would have to provide “emotional collateral,” sexually embarrassing footage as well as a lot of money.
Not NXIVM’s first cover-up since Raniere’s arrest
NXIVM is still active, but not outwardly. As Keith Raniere awaits his sentencing, several former members dance outside his cell in the Metropolitan Detention Center nightly. While the dancers claim they’re performing for prison abolition, many are former NXIVM members.
Some speculate that the dances may be passing on coded messages to Raniere. Others believe it’s only a show of loyalty. However, NXIVM’s covered activities raise questions about whether this new email campaign against The Vow is really about protecting their privacy, or if it’s just a way for NXIVM to cover its past.