Ads with Nazi images pulled from US subway

The advertisements include a version of the American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars.
The advertisements include a version of the American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Advertisements for a new Amazon.com show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery have been pulled from a busy New York City subway line after Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened, according to a transit spokesman.

The advertisements for The Man In The High Castle had completely wrapped the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan.

The advertisements include a version of the American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars, as well as a stylised imperial Japanese flag.

Mr Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), said the train was taken out of service after the evening rush hour so the ads could be removed.

An Amazon representative said earlier in the evening that the company had not requested the ads to be pulled, contradicting a transit official who had said the company itself had asked for the removal.

Mr Lisberg would not comment on internal discussions between the MTA and its advertisers, but said Mr Cuomo had called the head of the MTA on Tuesday and asked him to ensure the ads were taken down.

Earlier on Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had also called on Amazon to pull the ads, saying they were "irresponsible and offensive to World War II survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers".

The show, based on a Philip K. Dick novel, depicts an alternate reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan have divided control over the United States after winning World War II.

It portrays an America in which slavery is legal and Jews hide under assumed names.

But the Anti-Defamation League said: "Seeing the American flag paired with a Nazi symbol is viscerally offensive, because there is no context as to what it means."

Amazon did not directly address the controversy, saying the show is part of its line-up of "high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation".

Amazon's 260 subway station posters for the show have not been removed. The MTA had said those advertisements did not violate the agency's content-neutral guidelines, which ban political ads.

All 10 episodes of the show were released last Friday on the Amazon Prime streaming service.

Mr Frank Spotnitz, the show's creator, told Entertainment Weekly he agreed the advertisements could be seen as offensive.

"It's very difficult with a show with subject matter like this to market it tastefully," the magazine quoted him as saying. "If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Ads with Nazi images pulled from US subway'. Print Edition | Subscribe