Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wal-Mart Racist?

My friend Rob hipped me to this link. Apparently, these are the "Similar Items" that pop up if you go on to purchase a copy of Planet Of The Apes:

Martin Luther King, I Have A Dream

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

Unforgivable Blackness, The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

What's Love Got To Do With it?

Oh, and if you click on the Jack Johnson video, you get a recommendation for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Wal-Mart must have some real good ol' boys running the web team down there in Fayetteville.

Wal-mart Responds:


We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem. The offensive combinations that have been identified will be removed from the site by 5:30 CT today. However, with thousands of movie items available, there is an almost endless number of possible combinations. Because of that, we will be shutting down our entire movie cross-selling system until the problem is resolved.

We are deeply sorry that this happened.

Our system, like those of most other on-line buying sites, refers buyers interested in a particular movie to other movies through a technical process known as "mapping."'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.

To further illustrate the bizarre nature of this technical issue, the site is also mapping movies such as Home Alone and Power Puff Girls to African American literature.

This is a plausible explanation, although it's still a stretch. Four African-American biographies? And is linking African-American literature to children's products some other twisted kind of joke as well?

It could have happened, and maybe they were hacked. I dunno, but someone was asleep at the switch.

Thanks to John for getting the statement out.

BTW, if you want a more substantial example of corporate malfeasance, check this dude out.


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