Amazon had to pull some rather controversial ads for The Man in the High Castle on the New York City subway after complaints sparked a huge backlash. Nazi and Japanese Imperial symbols do not, apparently, go down well with travelers.
After commuters were upset by the Nazi signage in the elaborate ads for The Man in the High Castle decorating subway cars in New York City, Amazon Studios is pulling them. The signage, which includes an altered American flag, upset both commuters and the Anti-Defamation League, who stated the campaign did not provide enough context for why the Nazi insignia was blazing all over the subway cars.
While some tweeted that no one seemed to notice the symbols, many had and spoke up about it.
— Katherine Lam (@byKatherineLam) November 23, 2015
While they were set to display until December 14, according to Entertainment Weekly, Amazon has now decided to discontinue the ads which were wrapping the entire 42nd Street subway shuttle cars. The posters currently in the subway stations will, however, remain until December 6.
According to Mashable, the striking imagery used in the subway cars included the Nazi Reichsadler eagle and the Rising Sun flag of Imperial Japan, both of which play a chilling role in The Man in the High Castle. The series is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime and the initial 10 part season one offers viewers an alternate history of America in the years following the loss by the Allied powers during World War II.
Frank Spotnitz, the creator and executive producer of The Man in the High Castle, told Entertainment Weekly he agrees that the advertising was controversial, but says that the show’s very premise makes it a challenge to advertise.
“It’s very difficult with a show with subject matter like this to market it tastefully, so I understand they’re walking a very difficult line.”
He added that he doesn’t get involved in marketing decisions for Amazon and said if they had asked him, he would strongly advised them not to do it. He agrees with the director of the Anti-Defamation League that the symbols, taken out of context with the show itself, can appear to be offensive.
“Within the show, there is a context where you see why [they’re used], but just to put them out like that without the context was unfortunate.”
Reportedly several problems were experienced while initially filming the show in Seattle and dressing the sets, as many companies and locations refused to display the Nazi and Japanese symbols.
Much of the imagery was then added using visual effects. For example, the show opens with a scene in Times Square (pictured above) but was actually filmed in an empty parking lot to avoid displaying Nazi-related billboards in public.
According to Drew Boughton, production designer for the pilot of The Man in the High Castle, they tried to be as sensitive as possible when using the imagery. Boughton told EW back in August that where they were allowed to paint a Nazi or Japanese rising sun symbol, they did so as late as possible in production. This way the imagery wasn’t displayed on set for too long and didn’t cause any problems.
— Salon.com (@Salon) November 24, 2015
Boughton added that they were able to have small symbols on armbands and license plates, but they only put them on just before the cameras rolled, “out of respect and good manners.”
“No one wants to see a swastika in the first place, because it’s an upsetting image that’s profoundly disturbing and brings up profoundly disturbing feelings in everybody.”
However, when creating a television show that relies on such symbols, it becomes very complicated, especially when it comes to publicity and public relations.
“It’s unlike any job I’ve ever done before, where the very basic concept of the show is deeply offensive. It’s just tricky.”
Amazon Studios was apparently unavailable for comment on the subject.
The Man in the High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel of the same name, and the executive producer is Ridley Scott. The show stars Rufus Sewell, Luke Kleintank, and Alexa Davalos. The trailer for the show can be seen below.
[Image via Amazon]