Monday, November 30, 2015

Weekly Update #213: The Man in the High Castle Ad Campaign Backfires

Editor's Note

It can be cool when a celebrity responds to something you said on Twitter. I had that experience last week when actress and writer Mara Wilson liked my tweet. Granted I was responding to one of her tweets where she was asking for more info on alternate history (naturally), but she could have just ignored it and I'm glad she took the moment to say thanks. Hopefully she likes some of the works on there and a new fan will be born.

Don't forget guys to click through our Amazon banner on this Cyber Monday. Amazon will slice a little bit off the top from your purchase and give it to us to help support our mission of bringing high quality alternate history news and commentary to you, without any additional cost to yourself. Its a cheap and easy way to help an alternate historian out.

And now the news...

Amazon's The Man in the High Castle Ad Campaign Backfires

I am sure some of you are getting sick of me talking about Amazon's The Man in the High Castle constantly, but I just can't help myself. Everyone is talking about it! No other work of alternate history has gotten this much press and whether you either love it or hate it, you can't deny it hasn't made some kind of impact on popular culture.

Of course not all of that impact has been positive. Last week, Amazon made waves when they plastered an entire New York City subway car with flags and images from The Man in the High Castle. People were understandably shocked when they saw this and eventually Amazon took down the offending advertisements. Now the response I received on social media was generally negative reactions to Amazon's ad campaign, although there were a few people who didn't find the images necessarily offensive. On a personal level, I side with those who thought Amazon went too far, but perhaps not for the same reasons.

For one thing, there is a bit of false advertisement involved with the subway car ad. The only flag we have seen of the American Reich so far on the show is the classic American flag, except with a white swastika in place of the stars. On the subway car, they replaced that with an eagle clutching an Iron Cross. That, in my opinion, is proof that someone at Amazon thought it would be pushing it to include swastikas in their advertisement, but why they thought this would still be acceptable is a little bizarre.

I'm not going to lie, however, because the imagery does excite the alternate historian within in me. It is so rare to walk out into the real world and see something that could easily exist in an alternate timeline. Nevertheless, I do admit that not everyone can look at those ads and feel the same reaction that I did. Perhaps Paul Levinson put it best that when it comes to the other advertisements for The Man in the High Castle, whether they be billboards or pop-up ads, you can easily look away from them. A subway car full of Axis imagery, especially in the middle of rush hour, may be harder to avoid.

Thus we run into a common issue with free speech: everyone has a right to say what they want, but that doesn't mean everyone else is required to listen to it. As an alternate history blogger, I am not well placed to discuss this topic in more details, so instead I will end by saying that at the very least I am happy that people are thinking more and more about alternate history and how it can impact society as a whole.

If you want more interesting commentary on The Man in the High Castle, I recommend you check out counterfactual historian Gavriel D. Rosenfeld's fact check of the show's alternate history on Thrillist, this article from The Atlantic about why "Edelweiss" is a strangely appropriate opening theme and Slate's comparison of the Dick's original novel to Amazon's adaptation.

Video of the Week: The Man in the High Castle S1:E2 "Sunrise" Review

Thought I was done talking about The Man in the High Castle? No, you foolish fool! I still need to share my and Alana's review of Episode 2 "Sunrise":
Yeah I know I am cheating a little by calling this the "Video of the Week", but you guys just aren't getting excited about some of the other YouTube videos I share anymore. Just in case you haven't watched our review for Episode 1, go check it out here. It just surpassed 500 views. Thanks everybody!

I really am having fun doing these video reviews and may do some solo reviews in the future for other works.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judgeWhen not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

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