Why does Netflix assign “Of Interest To You” based on race?

Ok, I guess I watch “black people movies.” I use scare quotes because while I am pretty sure there are white people movies, as in, just about all of the movies made in the US, I wasn’t aware that “black people in movies” was a genre until I encountered Netflix.

I have a weakness for comedies, both romantic and otherwise. I don’t actually care what race the funny people are. I just like that they’d be funny. I recently watched a romantic comedy about a group of black friends who find love and hilarity in the city. You’d think this would be a cue to Netflix to suggest other comedies, both foreign and domestic.

Instead, it’s been a cue to their algorithm that I apparently want to watch movies about black people. I think it’s entirely possible that there is an audience of black moviegoers who would like to be able to go to a movie and empathize with the actor on-screen, which would mean that they would want to see people who look like them and share a culture. But does that preference to see black actors or black cinema transcend interest in story type? Like I get suggesting other romantic comedies with black actors similar to the one I watched, but I now have a boatload of thrillers featuring African Americans rather than other rom coms. Think of the material from Bollywood you could connect to somebody who has demonstrated an interest in romantic comedies.

Anybody know? Does the Netflix algorithm work based on what people have watched in clusters? I assume so.

(BTW, the movie is cute: it’s called Just Wright.)

(And yes, I know, you’re supposed to hate romantic movies because they are associated with women and emotions and yuck, everybody knows that women aren’t interesting and their stories are stupid and dumb and all. But I don’t hate women, so alas.)

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