Thursday, January 05, 2006


As if Wal-Mart didn't have enough image problems, check out this listing on their Web site. Pay close attention to the Similar Items category and, no, there isn't a common actor or director involved in each production.

  • Screen caps via San Diego Johnny

    (Thanks for passing this on, BW!)

  • UPDATE: Wal-Mart abruptly amended this listing just moments ago, clearly because the link that many of us got began to circulate so rapidly. Wal-Mart has issued an apology and blamed the incident on a problem with its "movie cross-selling system" -- an excuse that really doesn't add up. They want us to believe that the system, which appears to work just fine on every other DVD I checked, somehow managed to place all genres of DVDs that involved blacks (and not just say, a single black sci-fi flick) alongside "Planet of the Apes," yet it didn't even accidentally place a single non-black DVD there, too? Are they kidding me? The next thing they're going to try to convince us is that the company's "movie cross-selling system" accidentally placed "The African Queen" next to Season One of Logo's "Noah's Arc." Come on! I see that San Diego Johnny first wrote about this offensive and outrageous incident back in October, so we know it's been on Wal-Mart's site for at least a few months (and probably much longer), yet they're just now getting around to de-Duking it. Where's the American Family Association to call for a boycott now?

    7:37 P.M. UPDATE: Wal-Mart's PR flak Marshall Manson just e-mailed me (along with all the other bloggers writing about this, I'm sure) trying to sell me on the idea that because John Aravosis at AMERICAblog believes Wal-Mart's version of the story, it must be true. I'm a big fan of AMERICAblog -- but I hardly consider it the arbiter of racism -- and I find it hard to believe that John would knowingly allow Wal-Mart to exploit his reputation to try to clean up this mess. (If so, I hope you're being paid nicely, John -- just make sure you disclose it, OK?)

    Here's the thing: I don't think Wal-Mart or its computer programs are inherently "racist." But it's pretty obvious to me that someone who works on the company's Web site thought this would be a funny thing to do and now that it's been exposed Wal-Mart is covering its tracks. And if we've learned nothing else in the past few years, it's that the cover-up is what causes the most damage.

    So please, Wal-Mart, let's call a spade a spade (pun intended). This was not a computer-generated error. Figure out who did this, fire this person, and go back to your Always Low Prices. Always. Got it?


    Fenrir the Wolf said...

    Ouch....Yeah, SprawlMart has a lot of problems.

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the attribution, lacking in much of the blogosphere on this, Kenneth.

    Anonymous said...

    you're just the algorithm expert, arent you kenny?

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