I recently made a purchase at Borders that would have been way more fun on Amazon. If you’ve ever bought anything at the online site, you’re familiar with their up-sell methods. As soon as you drop something in your virtual cart, you can scroll down and see similar items to consider.
I’ve bought a number of DVDs of 50s TV shows on Amazon. If I buy a copy of Perry Mason, I’ll see something like “Customers who bought items in your shopping cart also bought The Defenders and Arrest & Trial.” Well, I could have sent their recommendations section into vapor lock.
After browsing the DVD cases at Borders, I picked up a copy of a performance by Eddie Izzard. He’s a transvestite, British standup comedian. Or a British transvestite standup comedian. Or a British standup comedian who happens to be a transvestite. Anyway, he’s hilariously bizarre. Or bizarrely– No, we won’t go through that again.
But my other purchase is what could have wreaked havoc on Amazon’s little algorithm: White Christmas.
If there’s a more white-bread and non-offensive movie than this Christmas favorite, it would be unwatchable. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen do everything in the movie perfectly. For what it is. White Christmas is traditional, feel-good, and sentimental. In short, everything Eddie Izzard is not.
Not that this ever happens, but what if an actual human were to spot-check the recommendations?
“Customers who purchased Pippi Longstocking also purchased The Never-ending Story.
”OMG, I’m so bored.
“Customers who purchased Eddie Izzard also purchased White Chr– Hold on a second. This can’t be right.”
I’m picturing entire systems shutting down and on-line commerce grinding to a halt as the poor folks track down the anomaly. But then someone with a sense of media history will point to Bing’s 1977 Christmas TV special where he sang the “Little Drummer Boy”/ “Peace on Earth” mashup with glam rocker David Bowie, and everything will reboot.
Then again, maybe no one would have noticed. The clerk at Borders didn’t bat an eye.