tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana
thefourthvine

Post: They Are ALL Secretly Judging Me

I just went to make an addition to our Netflix queue, and I was - okay. Does this happen to anyone else? You look at the movies/books/whatever that a given service (Netflix and Amazon are my two big offenders, here, as we don't have TiVo or even, you know, anything for a TiVo to record) suggests for you, and you think, "Have I injured this service in some way? Is this a deliberate insult? Or does Netflix [or whoever] really think I am this person?"

For me, that is usually followed, a microsecond later, by, "...Oh, god. Am I this person?"

The first blink of the day was caused by Netflix's showcased recommendation: The Founding Fathers: The Men Who Shaped Our Nation. There are several dozen reasons why I am extremely unlikely to watch this DVD, ever. But, fine, whatever, perhaps Netflix is just feeling unusually patriotic or something. Except, well, Netflix claims that we will enjoy this movie because we enjoyed The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Not the same thing, Netflix! Unless The Founding Fathers has a comedy bent that is very, very well hidden in the description.

So, fine. Apparently Netflix feels that I need to be a little more serious in my cultural consumption. Less humor, more history. All right. This is something I can hear and remain calm. I can handle constructive criticism. (I can. Really!)

It was in this mood - noble martyrdom, basically, with a side order of pretending not to be miffed - that I clicked on the Movies You'll tab. I have instinctively avoided this since they introduced it, on the grounds that that kind of imperative statement gets my back up. "Oh," I think. "I will this, will I? HAH. I FLATLY REFUSE TO ANYTHING. That will show them." This is not healthy behavior, and generally I try to suppress it. But since I was already fairly ruffled, plus violently hormonal, plus seriously short on sleep, I decided to click.

(You may, at this juncture, be questioning my decision. Feel free. It's just - sometimes you know you'll regret it, and you click anyway, and before you tell me you never do that, I want you to think about the time you clicked on goatse.)

So. The top movies I will (by order of Netflix) are:
  1. Brokeback Mountain
  2. Angels in America
  3. House, MD
  4. C.R.A.Z.Y.
  5. Street Fight
  6. The World According to Sesame Street
So, in order, we have:
  1. A gay-themed cowboy movie that I already specifically told Netflix I did not want to see. (You may indeed call me a bad fan AND a bad person of alternative sexual orientation AND a cultural boor, if you like. I don't care. I've read the short story, and that, frankly, was enough. See also: hormonal weepiness. When just the thought of the shirt scene makes me sniffly, I know to avoid the movie.)

  2. An AIDS-themed miniseries that I very much suspect is subject to the same hormonal weepiness ban.

  3. A show about two doctors in love. With lots of cancer in the background. Can I just - can I just have a quick word with Netflix, here? DEAR NETFLIX: I CRIED FIVE TIMES OVER AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. I CANNOT BE WATCHING THINGS WHERE PEOPLE DIE OF CANCER OR AIDS OR HATE CRIME. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION TO THIS MATTER.

  4. A movie that, going by the summary, is about growing up gay in Canada in the arms of David Bowie and Mick Jagger. I'll admit that Netflix has piqued my interest here, except after the first three, I suspect that this is about growing up gay in Montreal and, like, volunteering to work with terminally ill angels in Stetsons. See what happens when you aren't thoughtful with your suggestions, Netflix? My trust just isn't there anymore.

  5. A documentary about a mayoral election. In Newark, NJ. I mean, I'm sure it was a fascinating election, but there is a certain discontinuity, here.

  6. A documentary about a children's show I have never seen and know nothing about except that it has something to do with muppets and a large yellow bird.
But I will give Netflix credit for identifying at least one of my interests. I would call that interest "the gay." It's just that the accompanying message appears to be, "Enough with the gay, already. How about politics? Or, hell, how about the politics of children's programming? ANYTHING. SERIOUSLY. GET A LIFE. A MUCH STRAIGHTER ONE."

So. Fascinated, I pushed on to the individual genres section.

See, the way this works is, you tell them what genres you prefer to watch (in our family, this is documentaries for me, TV and anime for Best Beloved, and classics and SF/fantasy for both of us), and they give more weight to items in those genres. Which, fine. I wasn't particularly delighted with their selections in those areas, except for an animated series called The Amazing Screw-On Head, which I added to our queue on the grounds that a) that is a truly awesome title and b) Best Beloved will be watching it, not me, so awesomeness of title is more than enough reason to get it.

And then I got to their suggested genres. These are, apparently, the ones they think we might like that we haven't rated yet. What genre does Netflix think we should watch? What specific genre does it feel is lacking from our current rental line-up? Faith and Spirituality. ("Rate more Faith and Spirituality movies, so we can give you more recommendations," it advised. We can't. We haven't seen any of them. This is unlikely to change, Netflix.)

So now the message is: you love the gay, but we think you need to develop more wholesome interests, like politics, large yellow birds, and religion. In other words: NETFLIX IS JUDGING ME.

I seethed via email to Best Beloved for a bit.

So, once you've worked up a certain amount of righteous indignation, it's obviously time to continue in that vein, yes? Which meant heading over to see what Amazon wants me to buy.

What does Amazon want me to buy? I'm glad you asked.
  1. Every single yaoi manga ever published in the United States. Here's just a partial sampling: Love Mode, Yellow, Gravitation, Fake, Our Everlasting, La Esperanca, Shinobo Kokoro (seriously awesome slogan: "protecting the clan with some man-on-man" - that totally goes on my There Oughtta Be a Challenge manga tag lines list, which gets longer with every passing day), Gerard & Jacques (down, bandslashers!), The Art of Loving (not, as it sounds, one of those unfortunate '50s-era marital advice books), Wild Rock (the blurb says, in part: "can these star-crossed lovers get behind each other to stop the long-standing family feud?" - um, yes, we already GOT that it was yaoi, no need to include the gratuitous buttsex joke), Sweet Revolution (in which the seme possesses a "magical dagger" - that's yaoi for "healing cock," right?), Man's Best Friend (which does indeed involve gay sex with a magical transforming dog; this is why yaoi fandoms don't need crackfic, people), Lovely Sick - seriously, you would not believe the list of yaoi in my recommendations. Pages and pages. Some I'd never even heard of until today.

    And why am I supposed to consume this Time-Life Complete Yaoi Collection (attractively priced at only a bazillion dollars)? Because I bought a volume of Antique Bakery. Seriously. That's their whole reasoning behind this. This seems - I don't know. Disproportionate. I mean, okay, I love the gay as much as the next girl, but, but, but - one volume of Antique Bakery does not an entire library of yaoi manga make.

    And, really, if you're going to rec me yaoi manga, please don't just wholesale recommend the entire genre. Pick some especially solid ones and start there. Because, like - take Lovely Sick. Could be great, but it was apparently designed to hit every power imbalance squick I've ever had. Amazon, if you're going to rec me porn, at least pay attention to my particular porny needs!

  2. NINE separate cleaning books. Eight of them are on organic cleaning around the home, including one called Clean House, Clean Planet. I know these are probably great books. The yaoi's probably good, too, at least some of it. But I still feel judged. Are you calling my house dirty, Amazon?

    Why, yes. I think you are. Feelings = hurt.

    They also want me to purchase a book called Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of. See, now, I'm willing to believe there are many uses for baking soda that have never crossed my mind. Actually, I'm kind of proud of how little time I've invested, over the course of my life, in the development of novel baking soda applications. However, the title of this book, in such close company with all the gay manga, is taking me to some strange mental places, and now I must never think about baking soda again ever. Seriously. It's - I - just - no. (And the sad part is, if I'm thinking of it, some mangaka has probably already written it. Hide me!)

  3. Science fiction and fantasy. This is entirely appropriate, and yet, taken in conjunction with everything else, is making me feel, um. A little pigeon-holed, typed, categorized, you know?

  4. The complete works of Henry Jenkins and the whole fandom studies crowd. Aaaand the pigeon-holing is complete. Look, I am sure Henry Jenkins is a marvelous and fascinating writer. I've certainly liked what I've read by him. And I'm equally sure he's a wonderful person; I'll bet he donates money to homeless war orphan puppies with tragic ailments and so on. However, every single book he has ever written - plus all other books with "media" or "fan" in the title - seems excessive. It's like you're saying I have no life, Amazon!

  5. Five books along the lines of Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die.

    Yeah.

    Taken in conjunction with the previous items, I cannot help but interpret this as Amazon's gentle way of saying, "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, YOU PORN-LOVING GEEKY FANNISH SLOBBO. For the love of little apples, at least do something besides sit at that computer. You're wasting your life! What's left of it! Because you're probably going to die pretty soon, since your house is a total pigsty. Heavens to Betsy, what will the neighbors think?"
In short, Amazon has decided that the role it should play in my life is "demented, over-involved, hypercritical mother with an unhealthy and profoundly traumatizing interest in me reading porn."

Thank you, Amazon. I appreciate the thought, I really do. But NO. No, we do not have that relationship.

So, Netflix thinks I'm a gay moral degenerate (true!) who needs to take up an interest in politics and religion and the Amazing Screw-On Head. Amazon thinks I'm a fannish moral degenerate (also true!) who needs to for Christ's sake clean something and go somewhere already. I'm fine with them thinking I'm a porn-obsessed lesbian whore of Babylon - complimented by it, in fact. But the judgment, that is going too far.

It could just be the hormones. It really could. But my feelings are very, very hurt.

Which got me to thinking - yes, yes, there's a point to this entry! - am I the only one who reacts this way?

Poll time!

Is this a normal problem?

Yes. It happens to us all - one drunken night of TiVoing, and you spend the next ten years trying to convince TiVo you aren't really into naked John Travolta.
143(60.9%)
Well. I wouldn't say normal, exactly, but it certainly does happen.
43(18.3%)
It does happen, yes, but only to CRAZY PEOPLE. (Who have bad taste in movies and books and TV.)
3(1.3%)
TFV, I view this whole poll as a cry for help.
13(5.5%)
TFV, I am defriending you right now - Amazon and Netflix have convinced me that you are a bad person.
2(0.9%)
You'll feel much better when the hormones have calmed down. In the meantime, read a nice book. (Not one Amazon has suggested, either.)
31(13.2%)

I have felt judged by:

Netflix, those bastard disc-pushers.
5(2.4%)
Amazon and its so-called "recommendations," which are nothing more than thinly veiled insults.
81(39.3%)
TiVo's lies, lies, lies about what I really want from television.
13(6.3%)
Something other inanimate suggestion service I'll tell you about below.
15(7.3%)

What other services are secretly judging you?

In hopes of persuading recommendations services that I am a decent, intelligent person deserving of quality recommendations, I have:

Added items to my cart/queue/whatever that I really do not want to see or read.
1(0.5%)
Rated items that I have not, technically, seen or read.
31(14.3%)
Pretended to be interested in the items suggested, in hopes of making the service like me again.
0(0.0%)
Pretended to be interested in the items suggested, just to get them off my recommendations list so I can see what replaces them.
12(5.5%)
Purchased or rented items for friends with taste, and pretended they were for me.
1(0.5%)
Created an entirely new account.
4(1.8%)
Actually attempted to become the person my inanimate recommendations services believe I should be.
2(0.9%)
I am such a tasteful person that I never have this problem.
7(3.2%)
I am sane and thus don't care what recommendations services think of me.
77(35.5%)
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