New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called on Amazon.com Inc to remove “irresponsible and offensive” subway advertisements for a new television show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery.
The advertisements for “The Man in the High Castle” completely wrap the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the heavily utilised shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan.
The show depicts an alternate reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan have divided control over the United States after winning the Second World War.
A reality in which someone objecting to Nazi imagery would be taken out and shot. I offer this observation without comment.
“While these ads technically may be within MTA guidelines, they’re irresponsible and offensive to World War Two and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers,” said de Blasio, referring to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway system.
One might expect the ‘survivors’ of WWII to have a little bit more fortitude than to go weak at the knees at the mere sight of a swastika of the losing side, no?
Not to mention the common sense to realise that those determined to hide their faces away from the past (especially the ‘there but for the grace of..’ past!) might well be on a path to repeat it…
The MTA initially came out fighting:
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed the advertisements do not violate the agency’s content-neutral guidelines, which ban political ads.
“The MTA is a government agency and can’t accept or reject ads based on how we feel about them; we have to follow the standards approved by our board,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
Well said! But that was then. Barely a few hours later:
After also facing backlash on social media about the ads, Amazon decided to end the campaign, a move that was confirmed by MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, CNN reported.
A cynic – surely not me, gosh, no! – might say that the furore had served its purpose in getting the show the sort of word-of-mouth that it couldn’t have got simply with the redecorated train.
But it’s worrying that people are seemingly being conditioned to respond in knee-jerk fashion to symbols, and not to reflect on the context of their usage.