Honest Review of Netflix’s Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

**TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains written references to sexual abuse, trafficking, and porn scenes. Reader discretion advised. The Money Shot documentary contains explicit material, including nudity and mature subject matter. 

Netflix’s new documentary Money Shot: The Pornhub Story is trending as the #2 film on Netflix today. It highlights the work of anti-exploitation advocates, including Exodus Cry. This film certainly tells a story, just not the one you’d expect if you’d been following the case against Pornhub that’s been unfolding very publicly over the past three years. Before diving into the content of the film itself, we need to consider a very important number.

Ten million.

That’s how many videos Pornhub swiftly deleted from their platform after the front-page New York Times exposè “The Children of Pornhub” sent shockwaves across the world. Those ten million videos represented a jarring 80% of Pornhub’s content.

What would convince the household name of porn to make such a drastic and costly maneuver? Essentially, they suspected these videos may have contained nonconsensual pornographic content. Videos of toddlers being abused, fourteen-year-olds being raped, 15-year-olds being trafficked, and young adult women being coerced into porn scenes had already been found on the site. Pornhub was profiting from videos like these and had no real incentive to remove them.

That is, until it was thrust into the public spotlight.

The Traffickinghub campaign, which Exodus Cry helped to advance globally, introduced this crisis to Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who went on to pen “The Children of Pornhub.” Kristof’s piece had an atomic impact on Pornhub and online porn in general. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover all cut ties with the site and they’ve since been booted off Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Pornhub’s CEO and COO recently stepped down.

RELATED: Traffickinghub: A Timeline of Pornhub’s Rapid Decline

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

It’s in the aftermath of Pornhub’s fall from grace that the new Netflix documentary Money Shot: The Pornhub Story enters the scene. The film lays out Pornhub’s rise to prominence, its dubious response to non-consensual porn, and Traffickinghub’s success at impacting the online porn space.

But the real focus of the film is in telling the story of consensual porn performers whose livelihoods have been affected as a result of Pornhub’s PR nightmare. Among others, these performers include Asa Akira, Natassia Dreams, Gwen Adora, and Cherie DeVille, each of whom have had direct business dealings with the company. Akira is Pornhub’s official spokesperson, Dreams is an official brand ambassador, Adora was recruited by Pornhub, and DeVille has a contract with MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent company. Noelle Perdue, who worked at Pornhub for years, also features prominently in the film and she served as a consultant on Money Shot.

RELATED: The One Video Pornhub Doesn’t Want You to See

To its credit, the film gives a decent amount of airtime to highlighting the fight against Pornhub. This includes clips of Traffickinghub founder Laila Mickelwait (Exodus Cry’s former Director of Abolition), an interview with Nicholas Kristof, and an interview with Dani Pinter, Senior Legal Counsel at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an organization that has been one of Exodus Cry’s major allies in this battle.

Where Money Shot Got It Wrong

Where the film falls flat is in its attempt to convince viewers that consensual porn performers are the primary victims in all of this because they aren’t making as much money as they were before the Traffickinghub campaign exposed Pornhub. Most of the interview content featured in the film is from people whose financial wellbeing is tied to porn.

Notably, not a single victim of non-consensual porn was interviewed for this film.

To be sure, the topic of how consenting porn performers have been negatively affected by Pornhub’s willingness to capitalize on exploitative content is worthy of discussion. That’s a point that could easily be incorporated into a film that equitably balances the voice of performers and survivors. But, to make an entire documentary on this topic without interviewing a single victim is ignoring the elephant in the room, and this ends up feeling like a lopsided viewing experience.

Unfortunately, the film implies that it’s the “religiously motivated” anti-trafficking organizations who are primarily to blame for the decreased income of performers on Pornhub. This is a missed opportunity to bring performers and anti-trafficking advocates together. The common enemy here is Pornhub, not those who are fighting for a predatory multimillion-dollar company to be held accountable.

In fact, many current and former porn performers did lend their support to the Traffickinghub campaign, including ex-performer Jenna Jameson, once called the “queen of porn,” and Mia Khalifa, who was once Pornhub’s top performer. A member of Pornhub’s Modelhub even posted Exodus Cry’s viral animated Traffickinghub video to her own Pornhub account to help give it visibility.

Exodus Cry’s Real Objective: End Trafficking 

Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition, the porn industry’s lobbying organization, wrongly states in the film that Exodus Cry’s mission is to “abolish… pornography.” In actuality, we seek to abolish trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, which are rife in both prostitution and pornography. While Exodus Cry has no legal objective to ban pornography, we do offer a critique of the harmful elements of porn, and actively work to uproot overt instances of exploitation in porn.

The us-vs-them approach is not a recipe for real change in the minefield of exploitative porn. That’s why the Traffickinghub campaign welcomed support from people of all ideological backgrounds, and it’s one of the reasons it was so successful. Anti-trafficking organizations like ours seek to build bridges and find common ground with porn performers, not to pick fights. In fact, Exodus Cry’s VP of Impact, Helen Taylor, was just interviewed on this episode of the hugely popular No Jumper podcast, which is hosted by a performer.

Pornhub Whistleblower

Another miss in the film comes in the attempt to defend Pornhub for its crimes. It implies that the site is simply representative of the larger issue we face on all major internet platforms, such as Facebook, and that the site isn’t as guilty as it’s made out to be. But even that point is undermined by the interview with the former Pornhub moderator who explains how he was pressured to review around at least 700 videos per day—an impossible task. The estimated 30 moderators employed by MindGeek at the time is alarmingly small when compared with Facebook’s 15,000.

Often, even when survivors reached out to Pornhub to get their content removed, they would get pushback. Sometimes moderators would refuse, sometimes they would ask for proof, sometimes they would just take weeks or longer before they got around to removing the videos. All of this, of course, worked in Pornhub’s financial favor.

Conversely, sites like Facebook have no financial incentive to allow content like child sexual abuse material on their site and it’s why they quickly report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). It’s also why Facebook has reported more cases like these to NCMEC. Pornhub did not begin reporting child sexual abuse material to NCMEC until after the Traffickinghub campaign began to go viral.

Fact Checking Money Shot

The film also implies that anti-trafficking organizations aren’t doing anything to help actual victims, with Mike Stabile of the porn industry’s Free Speech Coalition saying Exodus Cry doesn’t offer any exit services to those in the commercial sex trade. That’s false, of course.

To date, we’ve provided hundreds of hours of specialized trauma therapy to survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation, many of whom were exploited on Pornhub. For years, Exodus Cry also ran safe homes for trafficking survivors. We also conduct weekly outreach to individuals being exploited in the sex industry and offer them resources to find freedom and rebuild their lives.

RELATED: Setting the Record Straight about Exodus Cry

To tell the story it really wants to tell, Money Shot glosses over the most important story—that of the victims who were abused, raped, trafficked, and whose trauma has been immortalized online as a result of Pornhub’s woeful negligence.

What Survivors Say About Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

Adriane, a survivor and advocate who Exodus Cry has assisted, shared, “Pornhub has ruined so many lives and we as victims/survivors need to be heard. We are victims of crimes and nonconsensual material that are on this platform and Money Shot ignored our experiences.”

Uldouz Wallace, another survivor leader, added “This documentary was a disgrace and such a slap in the face to so many survivors like myself, and many others. It only displayed the voices of porn stars… The fact that they’re still disregarding the child abuse material and defending the website is so disturbing.”

Traffickinghub Continues On

While incredible traction has been gained in the fight to hold Pornhub accountable and see exploitative content eradicated from porn platforms, the fight continues. Pornhub still does not require the age or consent verification of individuals appearing in the “verified” videos it allows on its site. That’s why we’re advocating for the passing of the PROTECT Act, which would enforce this kind of verification across the US.

Money Shot ends by pulling together a few porn performers, whose interviews were featured throughout the documentary. It films them as they begin a threesome scene and talk about whether or not they want to be choked. It would have been much more potent and impactful to bring together porn performers, anti-trafficking advocates, and survivors, have them sit down face to face, and discuss how we can unite for the common purpose of ending the distribution of exploitative porn. Or perhaps that would be too provocative for a story like this.

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