Wal-Mart Apologizes For Bizzare "Racist" Online DVD Groupings
On Thursday, January 5, Wal-Mart issued the following apology for a bizzare or deliberate software programming glitch that caused searches for "The Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" DVDs on their online store to receive automatic recommendations (much like how it's done on Amazon.com) to DVDs with African-Americans themes.
The recommended films were "What's Love Got to Do With It," "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," "Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Assassination of MLK" and "Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson."
Marketwatch.com reported on Wal-Mart's response.
Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams said on Friday that the company has delved into the situation and discovered that the "offensive combinations were completely unintentional."
She said that in preparation for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last year, Wal-Mart began a promotion of African-American films by linking certain movie titles to an "item group" of film boxed sets to highlight them for Internet customers.
"This happened during a sincere effort to further promote African-American films," she said. "Once again, we apologize for this unfortunate and regrettable incident."
Screen shots of the "racsist" recommendations have been making their rounds but I believe the whole incident is being blown way out of porportion. I actually found out about it from a local message board that I frequent. It's interesting to note that this particular poster neglected to say that the African-American themed DVDs also come up as recommendations when searching for 263 boxed set DVDs including
"Home Alone", "Power Puff Girls", "The Audrey Hepburn DVD Collection" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus Megaset," according to the Washingtonpost.com site.
The sensational linkage between apes and black people is non-existant and absolutely ridiculous! It sounds like there could be something to it until you realize that 263 DVD boxed sets trigger the same recommendations. While the group Wake Up Wal-Mart has called the incident, readers of their website have left messages in defense of Wal-Mart, claiming that there's no way the giant retailer would deliberately create rascist mappings of DVDs. I agree.