Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers!

Surely the facts are not in dispute. Or are they?

Wal-Mart apologized yesterday after its retail Web site directed potential buyers of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes DVDs to also consider purchasing DVDs with African American themes.
The world’s largest retailer said in a statement that it was “heartsick” over the racially offensive grouping and that the site was linking “seemingly random combinations of titles.”
“It’s just simply not working correctly,” said Mona Williams, vice president of corporate communications for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The company said it was alerted to the problem early yesterday afternoon after word began spreading among bloggers. When visitors to Walmart.com requested Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series on DVD, four other movies were recommended under the heading “Similar Items.” Those films included Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Assassination of MLK and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Williams said similar titles were called up when the DVD of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was requested. There were three such combinations involving those two movies and African Americans films, she said.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said in a written statement that it removed the combinations at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. By last evening, Planet of the Apes was linked to DVDs of the fifth season of the CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond” and the 10th season of the NBC hit Friends. The company said it planned to shut down its entire cross-selling system overnight.

Well isn’t that special? Imagine a corporation has a ‘heart” that is “sick.” It’s also, like so much of this culture, racist to its very core. No question that Wal-Mart was sending a cyber “shout out” to the white supermacist customers whose business it values. The only problem, was it got found out. . Ah yes, a PR emergency, easily solved with crocodile tears and a “sincere” statement of “apology” filled with self-aggrandizing protestations of “disbelief.”

Like most other major retail sites, including Amazon.com, Wal-Mart’s site directs users searching for movies to other titles that might interest them; Wal-Mart calls the process “mapping.” Wal-Mart said last night that the system was malfunctioning but did not explain why or how.

Perhaps Steve Gilliard can help. Or maybe not.

Williams said news of the problem was first posted on a blog. The company then learned about the offensive combinations when a reporter called to ask about it.
The blog Firedoglake, run by Jane Hamsher in Oregon, posted news of the combination yesterday afternoon under the heading “So Wrong.”
The incident illustrated how quickly a firestorm can build on the Internet. Two minutes after the post appeared on Hamsher’s blog, it was up on the Crooks and Liars site. Within hours, more than 100 comments were posted to that site, questioning such things as Wal-Mart’s agenda and the technicalities of mapping.

Major Props to Jane and John with a Big Ol’ SING OUT LOUISE!!!for good measure. Nice to know such smart people can cause trouble in the right places — and so quickly too.

But what remains to be dealt with is racism at the dawn of the 21st century. Surely some august figure of the punditocracy is preparing to step forward and speak of how “we’ve come a long way,” pointing to the fact that an African-American male sits on the Supreme Court and an African-American female is Secretary of State. But the truth of the matter is, the REAL “Bottom Line”: They’re nothing but Trained Monkeys, as far as the Powers That Be are concerned. Well-educated, trained-monkeys (just like Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter, underneath all that latex), and fashionable too. Just look at those Ferregamo pumps on Condi! And that’s not to mention Wal-Mart spokesmodel Queen Latifah.

Don’t kid yourself, sweetheart — you’re just a trained monkey to them, and that’s all you are.

Racism is that which gives Melanin-deficiency meaning. And a kind of spectral power too.”We can call you what we want to. And if you dare object we’ll whine about Political Correctness and shut your pie-hole pronto.”

Hey, I wonder if the greatest motion picture ever made about American racism is available through Wal-Mart. And what other items might they link it to? Ann Couler’s latest, perchance?

6 Comments

  1. Marshall January 6, 2006 1:21 pm 

    But of course (one hopes) we are talking about some bored, rogue, under-supervised underling programmer with a sick mind and too much time on his hands – not some corporate boardroom policy decision. One hopes fervantly. On a not-so-unrelated sidenote, I can’t help noticing when I go to Google and enter the search terms “Haiti 1793,” the secondmost sponsored link that returns in the sidebar is “Hot, Sexy, Haitian Girls – A Sexy Haitian Girl Wants to date you.” Take that, Toussaint L’Ouverture!

  2. SteveAudio January 7, 2006 4:03 am 

    David, I bow down and worship even unto you. You have the testicles, the melanin, and the intelligence to make these points.

    One small quibble, however. In Condi’s case, the dear actually has some intellect and intelligence. Note, I said some, not a lot. She’s the Spirit of Allen Dulles (see: Mossadegh) in a contemporary woman’s body. Problem is that her obsession with the Cold War & Soviet Union are hopelessly out of date, and thus much more dangerous than the out of date cottage cheese sitting in my fridge.

    Thomas, on the other hand, is truly working for the organ grinder, with his darling little cap and tin cup, while cheerfully thinking that he has gotten what he deserves in life. The ironically sad thing is, he’s absolutely right.

  3. Pam Anderson January 7, 2006 4:10 am 

    Walmart’s insufferable arrogance should be it’s undoing. It’s unfortunate but I don’t think it will happen any time soon. I don’t believe the underling theory even though I hope so. As outrageous as it is, the true insidious racism is their everyday labor practices. The class system in this country continues to evolve and it scares the hell out of me.

  4. San Diego Johnny January 9, 2006 2:45 am 

    Yes You Read it Here (Or Didn’t) First – Walmart Continued

    Although the problem became widely known only Thursday, John Pappas III, who runs the Web log San Diego Johnny, said he noticed the offensive grouping in October. The science-fiction fan said he came across it while looking to buy the

  5. Detour January 9, 2006 11:48 pm 

    Framing: Not Just Used For Pictures – BET Accusses Walmart of Racism Over

    “When did you stop beating your wife?”… a question framed in such a way that most any answer given to it makes that person responding appear guilty; regardless of the veracity of the accusation. This style of questioning is often used by politic…

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