"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Man in the High Castle in Realty - Well, on NYC Subway Cars

Here I am again with another post about The Man in the Hight Castle television series - a masterpiece in many ways, which will likely merit more posts from me in the months ahead.  The series is currently streaming in its entirety on Amazon, but this is not about the streaming.   It's about the rhythmic motion on the rails of New York City subway cars - or,  to be more precise, what is inside some of those cars and is now being removed.

Amazon sought to advertise its series - an adaptation of the 1962 Philip K. Dick alternate history masterwork in which Nazi Germany and Japan beat the U.S. in World War II - by outfitting a few cars with seats adorned with Nazi swastikas and imperial Japanese suns.   Some riders objected. Some people in government agreed.  Amazon is removing the advertising - the story with pictures is here.

My first response to this was:  surely we need to see the difference between real swastikas, and swastikas put in subways to advertise a series which so effectively shows why the Nazis - and, by extension, current politicians who speak like Nazis - need to be opposed.   As I pointed out in my reviews - here (the pilot in January) and here (the rest of the series a few days ago) and here (comparison with the novel - this last review has big spoilers) - only someone with ice water in his or her veins could fail to be profoundly moved by the story of a 1962 America so similar to ours - except, for example, that people with disabilities are put to death (including even an SS-officer's son). A series like this needs to be seen - and, therefore, advertising which promotes its viewing is a good thing.  

Just to be clear, members of my grandparents' family died in the holocaust, so telling the story of the Nazis and the horrors of their ideology is especially important to me (I assume no one had much problem with the Japanese suns on the subway cars).   But thinking it over, I realized that advertising on a subway car is a very special kind of promotion - it's advertising to a literally captive audience, the passengers of a subway car in motion.   This, it seems to me, makes the difference on this issue. If someone is offended by the Statue of Liberty doing a sieg heil in an online photo advertising the series, that person can look away.   But other then getting out at the very next station - which would be an unfair inconvenience to impose on anyone - there's really no way you can look away from swastikas in a subway car.  (If the Nazi insignias were only in one car, then anyone offended could walk to another subway car, but even that would be an unnecessary annoyance.)  I therefore think that, in view of this captive audience principle, it's right to remove ads for The Man in the High Castle from NYC subway cars.

But see the television series.   I saw it a few days ago, and I still feel like I just finished watching it a few minutes ago.

What if the Soviet Union had survived into the 21st century 
and Eddie and Cruisers were a real band?

more time travel and alternate history

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