Wal-Mart's recommendation of films about race alongside Planet of the Apes has thrown newspapers and blogs across the world into a tizzy. I don't get it. The primary theme of The Planet of the Apes movies and shows is race relations. It's not Eyes on the Prize, but the subtext is very shallow. It's entirely appropriate to recommend films about race next to Planet of the Apes.
It's not at all racist to suggest that the apes in the film represent African Americans - they absolutely represent African Americans. The movie was made in 1968, during the height of the civil rights movement. Race was on every American's mind. Angela says: 'I am not 100% sure that people "see" that film as a "race film".' I say people who don't are living under a rock. The last image of the film is The Statue of Liberty, which is one our lasting symbols of freedom and resistance to oppression, and especially slavery. In Tim Burton's (underrated!) Apes remake, the last image is of the Lincoln memorial.
Of course, if they don't, and if the film was intentionally placed next to movies about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Dandridge with bigoted intent, that's bad. But I doubt it. All big e-commerce sites have Amazon-like recommendation engines that analyze consumer browsing and purchasing habits, and that's where the association came from. There's no "racist programmer" to be fired. The style, production and social commentary of the Apes series may leave much to be desired, but love it or hate it, the movie is about race. It's not at all outside the realm of possibility that Walmart customers buy movies about Civil Rights and Planet of the Apes in the same shopping carts, whether they're racist assholes who think Black people are monkeys or they're college professors who are examining images of resistance in popular culture.