The acclaimed new Philip K. Dick-based Amazon series The Man in the High Castle envisions a frightening alternate world where the Axis Powers won WWII. Within one’s TV set or computer screen, one can easily compartmentalize and choose to enter this faux-reality when they wish. However, marketing for The Man in the High Castle has likewise decorated the New York subway system as though it were — just like in the show! — an alternate world where the Axis Powers won WWII. And now, after people started expressing disbelief on Twitter and across the web, Variety reports that they’re undoing it all. Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for New York City Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, announced today that Amazon had made the decision to pull the subway “wrap” ads.
The subway is already a miserable place, and the particular subway that these images cover is even more miserable — the shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square is a chode of a subway line that runs strictly through the most stressful parts of town. It therefore should have seemed a given that it’d only make shuttle passengers more miserable to force them to sit atop seats plastered in promotional Nazi-and-Nazi-collaborating inspired decor (the German Iron “Reichsadler” Eagle, and Imperial Japan’s rising sun were among the symbols evoked). For reference, they look like this:
Earlier, in defense of the ads following initial controversy, Ortiz had explained how the ads fell within MTA neutrality standards, as they were advertising a TV series and not an actual ideology. He said:
The ads do not violate our content-neutral ad standards and thus we have no grounds to reject them…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.
However, Mayor Bill de Blasio morally opposed the ads, and the Anti-Defamation League criticized them for being too decontextualized, with the symbols within the “immersive” experience too removed from info indicating that it was all in promotion of a TV series.
So there it is. Now subway riders will be able to return to their traditionally unpleasant-but-not-in-the-Nazi-alternate-universe-way commutes.