This product listing on Wal*Mart's website for a Planet of The Apes DVD suggests films about black historic figures Dorothy Dandridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. as "similar items." Maybe it's just a metadata anomaly (some readers have suggested that the entries might all share keywords for "race" or something), or maybe the cause is less innocent. Full-size screenshot, url link here. (Thanks, Carol, also spotted on crooksandliars and firedoglake)
Reader comment: Mike Harris says,
It's made even more suspicious by the fact that the larger "Similar Items" listing further down the page includes two more African-American movies, "Unforgiveable Blackness: the Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson" and "What's Love Got to Do With It".
Reader comment: Nate Heasley says,
The Walmart references could be just a fluke or perhaps someone trying to be hurtful, but there is a third possibility: it's intentional and anti-racist. Planet of the Apes is widely considered to have anti-racism social commentary woven into the sci-fi storyline. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was even more blatantly about racism and classism. So it could be that rather than having some racist idiot (person or bot) inserting those links to black historic figures, it's actually someone who's got knowledge of the more subtle references in the the movies.
Reader comment: Oh nooo, Planet of the Crackahzzzz! Alastair sez:
The original link
Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fifth Season (Widescreen) and
Friends: The Complete Tenth Season as the "similar items."
This is a product listing for planet of the apes again? Another cruel joke?
Reader comment: Jacob Rome says,
I recall seeing something like this before. In that case, inappropriate Amazon books were recommended, such as sex guides being shown for people browsing a Pat Robertson book. It was theorized that a large number of people caused this by visiting one page then the other, in order to game the system.
Perhaps the same thing is happening here. A group of racists could get together & view "Planet of the Apes" then immediately view movies about prominent African-Americans. This could lead to Wal*Mart providing the recommendations shown.
Reader comment: Elías Gómez says,
The novel Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, on which the TV series and movies were based is in fact a metaphor, or an alegoric view of the interracial struggle that took place in the States in the sixties. I think it tried to make people – mostly white people – somehow realize the way the oppressed ones lived and make them change their minds. So perhaps the MLK suggestion isn't really a racist suggestion at all. Anyway, I have no explanation for the other film.
Reader comment: Jeff says,
Wal-Mart has pulled all movie suggestions on its site because of the Apes debacle. From the AP story,
"We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said in a statement. "Walmart.com's item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together," she said, adding that the company was "deeply sorry that this happened."
Reader comment: John Pappas III ("San Diego Johnny") says,
The story regarding Walmart.com was broken by my blog back in October: Link