Interpellation: a word I learned in my college critical theory class, which I admittedly skipped almost every day of. The Althusser day, however, I dragged my semi-stoned, semi-drunk ass out of bed and learned some useless philosophy.
Interpellation, as it was explained to me, is the act of mirroring. Ads use it often. Basically it's when an ad creates an image and calls it "you." Eventually you relate to the image and need whatever is in the ad. Loreal uses it in their main slogan -- "Because you're worth it." All of a sudden, you're identifying with Beyonce and thinking that you need the grocery store makeup she's hawking even though you know she'd never buy that shit herself. And that leads us to Netflix.
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Everyone knows Netflix is stocked with shit movies. In fact, only about two percent (this is not an actual, researched figure) of the movies are five-star-worthy. So Netflix, to keep you interested in their product, and to hook you into watching the shit movies they've paid for, created an ingenious marketing tool: the algorithm that takes your ratings and suggests movies to you, filed under custom headings.
But there's a huge flaw in the system: I would never have watched that weird French horror movie Netflix suggested to me in a random draw if Netflix had good movies. I wouldn't have given it three stars ("liked it") if Netflix had other good movies. I gave it three stars simply because, in Netflix-world, that movie deserved three stars. Therefore, the "Foreign Horror" category Netflix created for me is based on the false premise that I prefer foreign horror when I do not. Here's the kicker, though: Now I have watched six French horror movies, all suggested by Netflix, and I got to say -- I love them. Netflix created an image for me -- an image of a woman who has more culture than to watch only John Carpenter films -- and I fell into their clever trap of interpellation. Here's a few more categories Netflix picked to describe me that now actually describe me. Those tricky bastards. Quirky Romantic Comedies With a Strong Female Lead I know how this happened, and it's all Bree Davies' fault. As a freelancer here at the Westword, Bree writes a weekly column -- Breeality Bites. It's hilarious, but I didn't understand the title until someone explained that Bree was playing off the title of Reality Bites. Then that person told me to watch it. So I did. And it was good. So I gave it five stars. Now I have a whole slew of movies with strong female leads and another category I don't talk about that's filled with Ethan Hawke movies. I hate Ethan Hawke. Thanks a lot, Bree and Netflix. Fight-the-System Documentaries Ok, Netflix. I did this to myself. And the sad part is -- I'm genuinely proud of this bullshit Netflix marketing strategy category. Because I was born to fight-the-system, Netflix. I was sticking it to the man before you were a twinkle in Reed Hastings' eye. Basically, I watched every good documentary Netflix had one week while fighting a depressive state with at-home medication of hot baths and too much TV-watching. So this category came up pretty naturally, based on my five star rating of The Business of Being Born, which featured the viewpoints of the above hippie, Ina May Gaskin, and was produced by Ricki Lake. That's right. Ricki Lake likes to fight the system, too. Imaginative Revenge Action and Adventure I don't have a clue how this category popped up on my Netflix about a year ago, or how it sustained. Could it have been my Mad Max marathon? I do love Rambo. I know one thing, though -- this category genuinely creeps me out, because so far Netflix has either tapped into what I know I like or known before I did what I liked. Also, Netflx says "this category is based on [my] interest in revenge." I didn't know I had an interest in revenge, but you better watch out, then, Jessica Goodspell, the girl who prank called me in fifth grade. Because Netflix is hooked into a part of me I didn't know about.