Four years ago, an amateur filmmaker named Ronald Dalton uploaded a 208-minute documentary containing a false conspiracy about Jews to Amazon AMZN. 0.36%
Prime Video is one of thousands of self-uploaded titles to its library of shows and movies with a service desperate to grow.
From Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America was the relatively low-key production you’d expect from an $8,000 production in Mr. Dalton’s home. When Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kyrie Irving said he searched Amazon for the Hebrew word “Yahweh” last week, the service’s algorithm put forward the “Hebrew to Negro” theory, and Irving said: advertised it. to his 4.6 million Twitter followers.
“It’s on Amazon, the public platform. It’s up to you to go see it,” the seven-time All-Star said at a press conference last weekend after the Brooklyn Nets’ loss to the Indiana Pacers. Irving said he was interested in the word “Yahweh” and how it relates to his first name.
Amazon provides a massive distribution platform for movies with humble origins, and with Irving’s support, its popularity has skyrocketed. Major Jewish organizations are concerned that the film’s endorsement, alongside Kanye West’s recent remarks about Jews, illustrates another example of the anti-Semitic beliefs circulating in mainstream popular culture. There is
On Friday, the audiobook version of “Hebrews to Negroes” was the best-selling title in Amazon’s “Christian Living” category. A second-hand hardcover copy of the 712-page book was selling for over $50 through the site. Movie rentals cost about $12.
“The whole world is watching,” said Dalton, the film’s director. “Samoa, Fiji, Australia, Middle East, Israel”
The Nets suspended him indefinitely without pay after Irving refused to apologize for promoting the film on Thursday. He later posted an apology on Instagram.
“Given the clear opportunity to disavow anti-Semitism, to fail to do so is highly alarming and contrary to our organizational values. ‘ said the team.
An Amazon representative did not respond to a request for comment. The company previously said it continually reviews content for policy violations and will immediately remove any titles that do not meet its standards.
How “Hebrews to Negroes” ended up on Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video is a case study of the results of an e-commerce company’s strategy to acquire as many shows and movies as possible. . At Amazon, a repository of thousands of such titles (often cheaply created and self-uploaded to the service) forms the basis of the library, including “Jack Reacher” and the new “Lord of the Rings.” The show is considered to be the most expensive season of television ever produced.
Mr. Irving’s controversy erupted when viewers discovered the core belief of “From Hebrews to Negroes.” This places the Holocaust and his murder of six million Jews as one of his “major lies” spread by Jews to “defend their position and power.”
Dalton, director of “Hebrews to Negroes,” said he thinks Irving’s critics should take the fight to him, the original source of the film’s ideas.
“Debate me in court and broadcast this to the whole world. Who is telling the truth and who is lying?” he said.
Irving faced criticism Wednesday for refusing to get a Covid-19 vaccine, claiming the earth is flat and pledging $500,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group. but did not apologize or apologize. Denies anti-Semitism. The organization later said it could not “conscientiously” accept the donation.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said it was an encouraging step for Irving, adding, “But actions speak louder than words.” According to him, due to Irving’s post and his refusal to retract previous posts, the film is now a bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon. “We still have a lot of work to do to undo this damage,” he said.
Dalton said he uploaded the film to Amazon’s Prime Video in 2018, with the option for filmmakers to publish their own content. Quick content for ‘Hebrews to Negroes’ He said his review process had begun, the film was approved, and soon the film was streaming worldwide.
Self-uploading has helped Prime’s library grow, but a 2020 study by The Wall Street Journal found unintended consequences of the Big Tent strategy. From some angles, the catalog looked more like a collection of YouTube content than a top-tier streaming service. It contained video game clips, the Bible, and lectures on outrageous UFOs and political intrigue, some produced by provocateur Alex Jones.
Documentaries, including those depicting views on inflammatory theories, have proven to be an important backbone of the library.
Data from Parrot Analytics shows that between January 2018 and March 2021, the number of documentary series increased by 63% across streaming services surveyed. Relatively inexpensive to produce and acquire, the genre is exploding in popularity as streaming becomes the norm. A viral hit like “The Tiger King” can attract millions of viewers.
Subsequent films made by Dalton did not pass Amazon Prime’s review process, he said. For self-uploaded videos, the company employs artificial intelligence tools to detect obvious terms violations such as pornography and copyright infringement. Humans also review user comments for potentially offensive ones.
Over the years, this strategy has allowed the company to bulk up without negotiating licensing deals with studios and production companies, especially in foreign countries where such deals can take months to complete. I was able to do.
Amazon gave “from Hebrews to blacks” a global reach, Dalton said. The film was edited using home-use software, used copyright-free music, and used stock footage from locations Mr. Dalton was unable to visit.
“It’s very easy to make movies today,” said Dalton.
Write to Erich Schwartzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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