Netflix Offers This Poor Excuse for Lumping Diverse Set of Black Films Together

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Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood

 

What do films and television shows and films like The Coalition, A Different World, Beyond The Lights, Mysterious Ways, The Game, My Favorite Five, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, Pastor Brown, Being Mary Jane, Peeples, Fruitvale Station, Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club, Braxton Family Values, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, and Bebe’s Kids all have in common?  Despite these films and television shows being a mixed bag of genres starring a Black cast, all these films appeared by clicking Netflix’s “More Like This” option while viewing information related to Beyond the Lights.

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s romantic drama about a pop star falling in love with a police officer with political aspirations is a touching love story. Instead of providing options related to the genre of her acclaimed film, Netflix has lumped it in with other films starring a Black cast. The director voiced her frustration and disappointment about Netflix’s algorithms in a recent series of tweets.

“The “more like this” on @netflix speaks directly to the issues we face in hollywood,” she tweeted. “ is a love story and a music film. where is the notebook, notting hill, walk the line, dreamgirls? what algorithm do they use? the same that is used by studios –if there are black actors in it, only black folks will want to watch it. got to stop.”

The only film with a prominent white cast that was a suggested title through Beyond The Lights was the Robert Pattinson’s film, Remember Me.

It’s also a bit disheartening to see similar results after clicking other Black films.  Fruitvale Station is a drama, through and through.  Yet, films and television shows like Belly, Pastor Brown, Two Can Play That Game, A Different World and wait for it… Master P’s I Got The Hook Up all show up when using the “More Like This” feature.

After Prince-Bythewood’s Twitter comments, she tweeted that the CCO of Netflix responded, and after a long conversation, the director seemed to feel a little more positive.

“In regards 2 “more like this” he says it is strictly statistical based on audience not human — people who watched beyond the lights also watched these films,” she tweeted. “Over time, as more people, i.e. broader audience watches, the titles will supposedly broaden. Maybe instead of “more like this” it should say “viewers also watched this” which is more accurate.”

There is a silver lining— at least Beyond The Lights was spared the fate of being lumped in with I Got The Hook Up.  That would just be wrong.

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