Amazon ads for Nazi-themed TV show spark controversy

amazon advertisingAn Amazon.com Inc representative said late on Tuesday it had not asked for advertisements for a new television show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery to be pulled from New York City’s subway system, despite earlier reports that it had.

The representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said a transit official who claimed Amazon had requested the removal following criticism was incorrect.

It was not clear whether the advertisements would be pulled or not. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not respond to a request for comment on Amazon’s assertion after business hours.

The advertisements for “The Man in the High Castle” completely wrap the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the heavily utilized shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan.

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 Two.

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 stylized imperial Japanese flag.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called on Amazon to remove the ads, calling them “irresponsible and offensive to World War Two and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers.”

In a statement, Amazon did not directly address the controversy, saying the show is part of its lineup of “high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation.”

The shuttle train ads were scheduled to run until Dec. 6, according to the MTA. In addition, Amazon also has 260 subway station posters.

An MTA official said earlier on Tuesday that Amazon had asked for the shuttle train ads, but not the posters, to be removed.

The MTA said the advertisements do not violate the agency’s content-neutral guidelines, which ban political ads.

All 10 episodes of the show became available on the Amazon Prime streaming service on Nov. 20.

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, so I understand they’re walking a very difficult line,” the magazine quoted him as saying on its website. “If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it.”