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Sunday, July 14, 2024
MagazineCulture & CommentaryNetflix, Your Algorithm is High

Netflix, Your Algorithm is High

Like most of Gen X, I find myself occasionally doing recon on the 70s – that mystery moment Tom Wolfe dubbed the “Me Decade” for its social atomism and relative self-involvement. Though most of us wee ones were barely allowed to make our fashion choices “let alone find ourselves,” we could occasionally sneak some grown-up fare in the  on HBO and Cinemax while the parents discussed the finer points of  Almaden. This is how I  saw Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke for the first time. It would not be the last. That was last week, when I streamed it on Netflix. Now, Netflix thinks I’m a stoner. See:
Netflix is high.

There’s something school marmish in the way Netflix chides “Because you watched…” It sounds punitive. Like I’ve broken the secret “Don’t Watch Cheech & Chong Rule” and now my punishment is having to watch Half Baked and Super High Me. That, or, the service’s suggestion algorithm is high.

Wired Magazine reported last November that Netflix is mining its vast stores of user data to make programming choices, which explains everything:

“We know what people watch on Netflix and we’re able with a high degree of confidence to understand how big a likely audience is for a given show based on people’s viewing habits,” company communications boss Jonathan Friedland said.

Netflix used this data to create its hit series House of Cards. Their data mining deduced that fans of the original Brit series were also fans of Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher. By combining these  elements (and who knows what else – breaking the “fourth wall,” dead congressmen, scrappy reporters, iPhones in glasses of water), they appeased a sizable segment of their audience.

It seems to me, if we all commit to streaming Up in Smoke for a few weeks, we could game the system and get Netflix to commission a new Cheech & Chong movie. Just be careful what else you watch during this period. It could have dire consequences for the duo – like if you watch too many Scorcese flicks from the 70s around the same period… Wait, that would actually be awesome…

Cheech: “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… Well, I’m the only one here.”

Chong: “Dave’s not here, man.”

Or… Imagine this dialogue between Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle and Betsy with Cheech and Chong – it almost works better:

Cheech: “I should get one of those signs that says, ‘One of These Days I’m Gonna Get Organizized.'”

Chong: “You mean ‘organized?'”

Cheech: “Organeziezd. Organeziezd! It’s a joke. O – R – G – A – N – E – Z – I – E – Z – D.

Chong: “Oh, you mean ‘Organizized’ like those little signs they have in offices that say ‘THIMK.'”

I’m going to stop now.

Click for more Cheech, more Chong, more Cheech & Chong and some Netflix.

Daedalus Howell
Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Welcome to one man's search for meaning through media making. Whether you're an active "creative," or an artist-adjacent culture serf, perhaps you will find my (mis)adventures in the screentrade, publishing, journalism and other arts edifying and inspiring — or at least mordantly humorous. More about me here.


  1. Unfortunately their algorithm is all but useless an example being that upon the switch to the thumb system i spent hours rating titles up or down giving special attention to finding and down voting every last version of Pokemon Beyblade Yugioh Dragon Ball or any of that other little kid over serialized crap. You would think such a clear message would have results yet the next day i log in and the number 1 suggestion at a 98% match was the only yu gi oh title i missed.

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