Wonder what your neighbors are watching? Wonder about all the various ways your viewing habits are being monitored and tabulated? Or how about if audience stereotypes are true?
Thanks to Netflix and the New York Times, now you know some of the answers. Behold a breakdown of 2009 rentals by zip code:
If you ever wondered how safe your personal data is on the internet, here’s a scary object lesson. Sure, it’s anonymized. And even scarier is the conformity among neighborhoods. Play around with the sliders to see which neighborhoods are renting what. The first, biggest, and most embarrassing surprise is the frequency with which everyone in America seems to be renting the terminally tedious Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.
Looking at the patterns of Los Angeles rentals, for amusement check out the rental patterns for two Tyler Perry films – The Family That Preys and Madea Goes To Jail. Guess how frequently the residents of Malibu and Beverly Hills requested them?
Even cooler, and more telling (though only in ways that the ACLU would shit kittens over any meaningful attempt to draw conclusions from), is to drag the slider across the top 10-15 movies in an ersatz time-lapse. Watch the rental patterns – not just the intensity, but the areas where people are renting.
First, just about everybody in the Southland is renting The Shiteous Case Of Benjamin Buttass as their top pick, except for about half of the city of Los Angeles, and the good people of Lynwood.
For the international readers who might not be familiar with the birthplace of Weird Al Yankovic, Lynwood is right next to the more frequently name-checked ‘hoods like Compton and South Gate. And rightly or wrongly, it also has the same reputation as a gang-choked, poverty stricken hellhole. (Though you wouldn’t know it from the optimistically stock-photographed dead-end link called: Lynwoodwatch.com)
Say what you will about poor people, but if being rich means watching The Tedious Case Of Benjamin Suckass one more time, you can sign me up for foodstamps. I hope that it’s Netflix popularity is due to an early 2009 DVD release date, and that it’s gaudy rental numbers are a function of time as well as popularity. But since it was such a god-awful movie, I’ll keep taking my shots at it where ever possible.
Next up is Changeling, Clint Eastwood’s saga about a distraught woman in 1930’s Los Angeles. Nearly the same distribution pattern as Three Hour Boring Suckfest That Shall No Longer Be Named, and again the people of Lynwood lead the Southland in their cineastic wisdom.
Slumdog Millionaire, your 2009 Oscar winner for Best Picture hits a heck of a dropoff. The art film ennui spreads from Lynwood into Compton, South Gate, Inglewood, and El Monte.
Seven Pounds flips the numbers around a lot. But nowhere near as much as Eagle Eye. It’s a popularity inversion almost as severe as the Tyler Perry movies. Flip back and forth between Eagle Eye and Darren Aaronofsky’s tiresome The Wrestler. Holy socio-economic profiling, Batman, but the stereotypical lower-class neighborhoods apparently don’t give a shit about self-indulgent meditations on aging, but they do buy into the idea that the government is watching their every move! In the same vein, the people who love Eagle Eye also love Alex Proyas’ fatalistic supernatural melodrama Knowing. Is it for Nicholas Cage? Or for the paranoid ruminations of the inescapability of fate? You decide!
You can probably guess the rental map for biopic of gay rights activist Harvey Milk looks like. But why all the diffuse, widespread love for The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant?
I might be the only person in 90041 with Transporter 3 on the queue, and I’m beyond delighted that Indiana Jones Buys Steven Spielberg A Fifth Summer House was rented by nearly nobody.
The most peculiar anomaly is 90747 – a subset of Carson, which shares almost nothing in common with Netflix’s top 25. Keep an eye on this trapezoid of dissidents as you pull through the maps. Who the hell are these people, and why are there so many kiddy flicks on their top 10?