Scott Loves Gansta Rap and Chick Flicks


Scott McGrew

Do you recall the idea a few years back where your TiVo made strange assumptions about you?

From the normally staid Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described “straightest guy on earth,” he tried to tame TiVo’s gay fixation by recording war movies and other “guy stuff.”

“The problem was, I overcompensated,” he says. “It started giving me documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the Third Reich.”

That was a few years ago. A new problem with technology: My iTunes thinks I am a gansta rap fan with terrible taste in movies.

The gansta rap thing is easy enough to explain. My junior high aged son likes hip hop, so occasionally he will yell down the hall “Dad, can I buy an iTune?” To which I will respond “yes, but not an explicit track.” You see, iTunes flags songs with vulgar content with a bright red “explicit,” but usually there’s a safe, edited version of the same song. So a song with the lyrics “Gonna #$%*@ your !*$& with My %%$#@” becomes a lot shorter.

Anyway, iTunes sees that I buy rap, or at least someone using my account does, so it develops automated recommendations for me. It cheerfully suggests “You also might like ‘ $#@) your #*$! ‘ by the artist Lil’ $*#”

My songs lean more towards “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra or “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas, songs I’ve had on a hard drive or CD for years. But even that causes problems. When you load the .mp3 file into iTunes, the program helpfully fetches the album art for the track, files the song under the album name, and places a picture of the album cover on your iPod when that song is playing.

Trouble is, it seems to fetch the most recent album on which that particular song was published. So, in the case of “Fly Me to the Moon”, my iPod displays the album art from the soundtrack to the Ewen McGregor movie Down with Love because the song was apparently in the movie far more recently than it was published on an actual Frank Sinatra album.

Spinning through my iPod’s album list, I see “The Soundtrack to Happy Gilmore” listed. “The Soundtrack to Happy Gilmore?” I ask. “Who the $@%# loaded that on my iPod?” (I need to listen to less rap).

Turns out the movie used the song “Carry On Wayward Son” in its soundtrack, so iTunes figured that’s where the song came from, and duly lists the album accordingly. For the record: they apparently used songs from the Kinks in the movie Hot Fuzz. I did NOT buy the soundtrack to that either. Also, “Sweet Home Alabama” may have been in the Reese Witherspoon movie by the same name, but I’m sure I originally got it from the Lynyrd Skynyrd album “What’s Your Name.”

Gotta go, my TiVo apparently thinks I’m pregnant, and I really don’t have the hard drive space for all those Lifetime movies.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter


One Response to “Scott Loves Gansta Rap and Chick Flicks”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Intuitive electronics…. the decline of mankind as we know it. I have always been wary of devices that try to predict my personal preferences. It’s makes me wonder how far we are from a real life iRobot experience.

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