The Vow is an HBO documentary series detailing the inner workings of the sex-trafficking cult known as NXIVM. I first heard of the cult when the news broke that Smallville actress, Allison Mack had been arrested. How could a seemingly sweet actress get involved with an organization that brainwashes women into becoming sex-slaves?
The nine-part documentary follows several high-ranking ex-members of NXIVM as they explain how they were initially hooked into the program and how they escaped. There is also extensive footage of the cult leader and founder, Keith Raniere, an unremarkable-looking man with an uncanny ability to hypnotize anyone with his rhetoric. Keith Raniere is like a real life Light Yagami.
Ultimately, The Vow explores how destructive behavior can be normalized when the participants are in a closed-loop of information and believe they have the moral high ground. Most people believe that they would never be seduced into cult-like behavior. However, the amount of confirmation bias within “carte blanche” news media would suggest otherwise. Hopefully, The Vow will encourage audiences not to condemn victims of manipulation and productively reassess their own beliefs.