At SXSW in Austin last week, as part of a marketing campaign for “The Man in the High Castle,” Amazon launched “Resistance Radio,” a fake Internet-based radio station broadcast by the fictional American “Resistance” from the show.
“Hijacking the airwaves, a secret network of DJs broadcast messages of hope to keep the memory of a former America alive,” the website said. Click through, and an interactive image of an antique, dual-knob radio appears while mod tunes drift through your computer’s speakers. In between songs, DJs on three different stations speak about how to fight the “Reich” in America.
Soon #ResistanceRadio, the campaign’s sponsored hashtag, spread like wildfire on Twitter. Some Trump supporters seemingly mistook it for an anti-Trump radio station and expressed their displeasure. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“Getting tired of ‘the resistance’. What are they resisting? They would rather USA fail then admit Trump does anything good. #ResistanceRadio,” one user tweeted.
“Because CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and BBC weren’t enough to get Hillary elected, so let’s try radio too late. Idiots. #ResistanceRadio,” tweeted another.
“What is this Left Wing Loonie #ResistanceRadio nonesense? Are they still resisting facts like Trump is President & Crooked may go 2 prison?” tweeted a third.
“#ResistanceRadio ? Good luck outpacing @rushlimbaugh @marklevinshow @seanhannity @toddschnitt @theblaze and others. The airwaves are ours,” tweeted another, referring to several prominent conservative radio and television personalities.
“LOL #ResistanceRadio It should do just as well as #AirAmerica did,” tweeted another, referring to a now-defunct, left-leaning radio network (that, unlike Resistance Radio, actually existed).
Meanwhile, some who oppose Trump used the hashtag in a similarly serious manner.
“KEEP FOCUS on #treason for @realDonaldTrump AND RUSSIA HACKED AMERICAN DEMOCRACY!! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! #ResistanceRadio,” tweeted one user. “When someone shows you who they are…BELIEVE THEM. #ResistanceRadio,” another user tweeted along with a still from the Trump-Billy Bush tape in which Trump said lewd things about women.
As the weekend wore on and more people understood the origin of #ResistanceRadio, the conversation changed slightly.
It’s important to note that well before Amazon launched this campaign, #ResistanceRadio had been used, however sparingly, on social media while promoting certain anti-Trump podcasts.
But the hashtag certainly received a boost over the weekend.
This isn’t the first time the show’s edgy advertising campaigns caused uproar. In a 2015 promotion, Amazon decked out the seats of a 42nd Street shuttle train in New York City with symbols of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
“Half the seats in my car had Nazi insignias inside an American flag, while the other half had the Japanese flag in a style like the World War II design,” Ann Toback told the Gothamist blog. “So I had a choice, and I chose to sit on the Nazi insignia because I really didn’t want to stare at it.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out against the advertisements. The former requested they be removed, while de Blasio said in a statement to NPR, “While these ads technically may be within MTA guidelines, they’re irresponsible and offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers.”
A spokeswoman for Amazon told NPR, “Amazon Studios creates high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation. ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ based on an acclaimed novel, explores the impact to our freedoms if we had lost World War II. Like ‘Transparent’ and the movie ‘Chi-Raq,’ stories that society cares about often touch on important, thought-provoking topics. We will continue to bring this kind of storytelling to our customers.”
Although Amazon did not request for the ads to be pulled, the New York Metro Transportation Authority removed them at the end of November 2015.