Entertainment And News

Why So Many People Are Against The 'Sound Of Freedom' Movie — Despite The Very Real Issue It Covers

Photo: Angel Studios
sound of freedom movie

There is no debate that human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Defense:

  • $99 billion per year is made from sex trafficking
  • 4.5 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation
  • $51 billion per year is made from forced labor
  • 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor
  • 20% of human trafficking victims are children

Why is 'Sound of Freedom' receiving so much backlash and controversy?

Because human trafficking is such a sensitive topic, it should be reported on with honesty, integrity, and with the right intentions in mind. Unfortunately, the movie "Sound of Freedom" has received backlash for its lack of honesty, which is why so many people are speaking out against it.

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Tim Ballard, the former Homeland Security officer and anti-trafficking activist the movie is based on, and the actor portraying him in the film, Jim Caviezel, are both controversial figures.

Ballard is the founder of a controversial anti-trafficking organization called Operation Underground Railroad, or OUR. The organization has been accused of exaggerating and embellishing the operations they are involved in and outright lying about being involved in certain cases.

They are also under fire for their suspicious spending. In 2021, OUR received more than $42 million in donations but spent only $31 million on its work for reducing sex trafficking victims. Vice News reported that Ballard stepped away from the organization for undisclosed reasons.

Apart from the controversial organization, Ballard has made some questionable claims of his own. Ballard said that the biggest contributor to child trafficking is “the woke agenda.” He believes that pedophiles have been pushing this agenda for decades and they don’t have to do it anymore because “the leftists are taking care of it in America.”

Caviezel has spoken at QAnon conventions and is an avid supporter of the conspiracy that has been proven to be false. QAnon is "a wide-ranging, completely unfounded theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshiping pedophiles in government, business and the media.”

Caviezel is also known for spreading other outrageous conspiracy theories. TikToker TizzyVent went over both Ballard and Caviezel in detail in a recent TikTok.



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'Sound of Freedom' is also flooded with misinformation regarding child sex trafficking.

An article on Screenrant mentions how Erin Albright, an attorney who has worked with child sex trafficking for 15 years and CEO of the National Children’s Alliance, Teresa Huizer, say that "Sound of Freedom" glamorized depiction of their work distracts from the harsh reality of child trafficking.

The article goes on to list all the facts about child sex trafficking that the movie seemed to ignore.

1. Most children know their traffickers.

For one, most children know the people who end up trafficking them. However, the movie depicts children being stolen in some elaborate scam. But according to Huizer and Albright, most children are trafficked by parents who have substance abuse problems.

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2. Most trafficking victims are teens, not prepubescent children.

A second crucial fact that the movie gets wrong is that most children that are trafficked are teenagers. According to experts, 70% of children who are victims of human trafficking are between the ages of 15-17. The movie portrays the victims as being mostly prepubescent children.

3. Many trafficking victims are part of the LGBTQ+ community or come from poverty.

Lastly, the movie doesn’t touch on how child trafficking victims are a part of the LGBT community or that they come from poverty.

“Many child victims of human trafficking are LGBTQ+ or gender non-conforming and, as legislation targeting these vulnerable minorities becomes more commonplace, an increasing number of children are in danger of becoming victims,” says Cathal Gunning, author of the Screenrant article.

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Child sex trafficking is an important issue that deserves a solution.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the U.S. Department of State, there are various steps society can take to help end sex trafficking:

  • Knowing the signs and indicators of trafficking
  • Learning more about where your produce or clothing comes from
  • Writing to state and local representatives
  • Volunteering locally
  • Registering for training to "help professionals appropriately identify and address the needs of people impacted by human trafficking"
  • Raising awareness via social media or word of mouth
  • Becoming a mentor to a young person in need
  • Recognizing trafficking recruitment tactics
  • Responsibly and honestly reporting on stories of human trafficking

Ultimately, "Sound of Freedom" sensationalizes the work that Ballard did in his early years of working as an anti-trafficking activist, while spreading misinformation about child trafficking. This is the core problem with the movie: it's spreading sensationalized misinformation while failing to address the truth behind child trafficking.

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Tarah Hickel is a Washington-based writer who is a frequent contributor to YourTango. She focuses on entertainment and news stories including viral topics and movies.