I visited my Netflix queue this morning to see what I could expect in the mail as my replacement for the ill-fated Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. And I was treated to their ratings reminder as soon as I got to the page. “Rate Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 to see what OTHER movies you might like”. It dawned on me that this was like those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.
Here’s what Netflix says if I rate it one star (which is accurate, of course):
That seems reasonable enough to me, although the notion amuses me a little bit. “Yeesh, you didn’t like SUPERBABIES? Why do we even bother recommending things to you if you aren’t even going to enjoy perfectly good movies like Superbabies?!?! We give up.”
Then the hamster started running around the wheel inside my skull. “Wait a second”, I thought. “What would they recommend to someone who actually enjoyed this cinematic abomination?”. So I changed my rating to 5 stars. Here’s the result:
Wow. There’s so much to laugh at here. Wallace & Gromit makes sense- they’re both movies geared towards kids. Then, with the next two selections, all hell breaks loose. Black Dynamite? Seriously, Netflix? If someone thinks Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2– a movie for kids, aimed at children- is a 5 star flick, you recommend an R-rated comedic homage to blaxploitation starring Arsenio Hall and the guy who played Bubba in Forrest Gump?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, they then recommend A Prophet. It’s also R-rated. And French. The individual Netflix page for it says that it’s “Violent and Gritty”. It’s rated R for “strong violence, sexual content, nudity, language, and drug material”.
There you have it. I chose my own adventure. Obviously, I went back to one star. But now that I’m at the end of my adventure, I’m going to use this to make a grander point. You might recall back around Thanksgiving when I raised hell about some of the choices Netflix has been making lately. The one that irks me the most is the dissolution of the “Friends” feature. Recommendations used to come from friends, or you could skim from friends’ queues. It was fantastic because you could figure out what to watch based on people who actually had similar movie tastes to you. Netflix would even tell you, with a percentage score, just how similar other people were to you in their tastes. But the Supersuits: Corporate Geniuses 2 that run Netflix axed that functionality on their own website. They created a Facebook alternative that (much to my delight) failed miserably. They also steered people more towards their own recommendations based on their own statistical matrix.
Well, see above. I think you see just how much of a monstrosity their statistical matrix can be. Put another way- would you take any of your friends seriously if they uttered the phrase, “You loved Superbabies 2? Well, then you’ll REALLY love Black Dynamite and A Prophet!”. Stupid Netflix.