This is not specifically an article about movies. More… movie-adjacent. It’s something that I feel will be pushed on a large portion of the readership of this site over the next few years and it’s worth discussing in light of the cinema-quality Super Bowl advertisements that aired earlier this week. No, not the movie trailers. Those were already covered by Maxance Vincent. I’m talking about the crypto ads. I saw three of them putting celebrities front-and-center during the big game. You had one starring Larry David:
One featuring LeBron James:
And of course, Matt Damon’s infamous “Fortune Favors the Brave” ad that you may have already seen in theaters:
You also had a lot of ads for digital trading platforms friendly to crypto. Not banks, of course! Banks are bad! These are just centralized places where you can store your cryptocurrency and exchange it. Totally different from a bank!
But why are we seeing so many of these ads? Why are the major crypto firms and trading platforms spending millions in fiat currency to get the general public invested in this now, when Bitcoin has been around since 2009 and Ethereum was founded back in 2013?
For those of you unaware, cryptocurrency is a speculative financial asset mined through a process too complicated to explain in the space of this essay that was originally conceived as a decentralized, independent-from-governments, digital form of currency that would free us from the unfairness of fiat currency and the greedy banks that imploded the world economy in 2008, screwing an entire generation out of the opportunity to build the kind of wealth their parents enjoyed at their age. But in the years since larger server farms and crypto-mining silos have been built, it has failed to be anything other than a speculative financial asset, which disqualifies it from ever functioning as a currency.
You know how everyone is freaking out about 7% inflation over the course of the past year? How would people feel about their financial security if their dollar tripled in value at the start of spring, then halved its value by midsummer, then went up 50% by October, then down 30% in November, then up 80% at the end of 2021? That’s what happened with Bitcoin in 2021. That happened within the span of one year, and that’s not including all the jumps and dips in value that can and does often occur within the span of days or even a few hours. This is only good if you’re a wealthy investor who loves the “rush” of a rising stock price, not so much if you’re trying to budget for day-to-day expenses, loan repayments, and retirement savings.
And the speculators are starting to realize this. You hear about these “crypto billionaires”… but that’s a misleading descriptor. They are “billionaires” in the sense that they own digital assets they insist are worth billions, but they can’t cash out the crypto they own for fiat currency (a.k.a. real money) anywhere near what they’re supposedly valued at because, even after over a decade of development and mining, there’s still not enough liquidity in the cryptocurrency system at the moment. The only way to get a real exchange of money from the crypto assets these “billionaires” own is for new cash to be pumped into the system, which increases the real money value of their fake digital money.
So when you read a story about someone buying an ugly ape cartoon jpeg for $100 million in cryptocurrency, that’s not $100 million in real money they can get out of the system. But if they get enough new buyers in on it, that increases the value of their cryptocurrency, which by design is deflationary. I wonder if there’s a term for this kind of trading? When you deceptively hyper-inflate the price of an asset purchased at a low price, and then you cash out the overvalued asset after you get a bunch of unaware buyers invested in it, which craters the price and you leave your investors screwed?
By the way, now is a good time to remind everyone that Jordan Belfort, the convicted felon who is banned for life from regulated securities trading for running a series of pump-and-dump schemes and was portrayed with maximum sleaze by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, is a big proponent of and investor in cryptocurrency. But I’m sure that’s not a red flag or anything.
Notice how none of these crypto Super Bowl ads were able to even suggest any real-world, tangible utility for Bitcoin or Ether or Dogecoin or Tether or Solana or XRP? Sure, aging comedians can joke about how “haha there were people who called the internet a passing fad once upon a time and they sure look stupid now!” but companies and government agencies were using email as early as the late 90’s. There were clear, obvious uses for a global system of interconnected computer networks that communicate between devices from the moment it was invented, even if most people at the time didn’t quite realize its import. What’s the hypothetical benefit of crypto to your day-to-day life? Nothing you can’t already get out of a Vegas casino, minus the buffet food and cheap booze, of course: “If you invest in the right crypto at the right time, and cash out for real money at the right time, you could be rich! You could be the one who wins big at the digital roulette table! But you have to buy in early, when it’s cheap, because when it’s super-valuable later down the road, you can sell it off for way more and leave some poor sucker with the bill! You don’t want to be the sucker… do you???”
Like the acquaintance from high school aggressively trying to recruit you on Facebook into their MLM, not realizing that only the earliest adopters at the very top of the pyramid scheme see any money, while the ones lured in later are the marks. But hey, at least those poor souls have protein shakes and body lotions stored in their garages when they’re left high-and-dry by those predatory organizations.
One final thought – when Matt Damon was hired by Crypto.com to call you a coward if you don’t invest in cryptocurrency soon, do you think he was paid in cryptocurrency or U.S. dollars?