A good gauge of how well a new technology or product is being received by the public, is to note its references in Pop Culture. Analyzing how movies, television, art, and news -which I consider to be a form of pop culture as it is generated content meant for modern and ephemeral consumption- can be an accurate reflection of the current underlying views of that technology or product.
Bitcoin has enjoyed its share of the limelight since its conception and since The Merkle has already published an article on Bitcoin in Movies, I thought it high time that we explore some of the other Bitcoin pop culture references. This time, we’ll look at television shows.
House of Cards: Scandalous Bitcoin
We are living in the golden age of cinematic and episodic television. Many of these modern classics revolve around scandal, and some screenwriters saw the opportunity to reference a highly contentious currency. Netflix’s House of Cards is a story about a meticulous sociopath and his wife as they grapple for power in present day Washington. It mentions Bitcoin in passing, but with deeper than surface level implications.
Season 2, Episode 2 (Chapter 15) uses the term “Bitcoin laundering” along with a string of all the other nefarious content that one can access on the deep web. It is not surprising that Bitcoin would be mentioned in such a way, especially considering that this was a time that Silk Road -a deep web site where users could purchase drugs in exchange for bitcoin- and its successor were still in somewhat recent memory. Common misconceptions of anonymity and liquidity left little other impression in the minds of some writers of what Bitcoin’s use cases were.
Parks and Recreation: Bitcoin the Novelty
Well written comedies often attract and retain viewership over their lifetime with witty jokes, dynamic characters, and the ability to stay relevant with those viewers. “Parks and Recreation” is a favorite among many for its wacky humor and relatable characters.
In Season 6, Episode 15 (New Slogan), a web designer asks that Leslie Knope “Paypal me some bitcoins,” which Leslie has no idea what to do. The novelty surrounding someone using Bitcoin, the lack of awareness of what it is, and the incorrect methods of paying someone with it all point to the current climate of many thinking Bitcoin is some sort of joke which will die out.
Obviously we all know it is unlikely that Bitcoin will run such a course. However, Parks and Rec did hit the nail on the head with one aspect of this: many people have no idea what bitcoin is, what it is good for, or how to use it. Which means we need more Bitcoin evangelists and current ones need to widen their spheres of influence.
Mr. Robot: Bitcoin the Anti-Hero
End of the world -or the world as we know it- entertainment when done correctly is intensely enjoyable. Amazon Prime’s “Mr. Robot” is a story about a group of hackers looking to upend the present day financial system because of institutionalized monopolies. The times that Bitcoin is mentioned in this show are far more inline with what is actually is: multifaceted, complicated, and independent of institution.
The Merkle has already pointed out all of the references in an episode of the second season. The show has it mentioned via ransomware, we hear mention of it multiple times by thugs on the street and in prison when discussing their deep web site. But we also see it as a secure way to hold and transfer wealth after institutionalized banks collapse. We see it for what it as the flawed savior, not without fault or use by criminals, but the freeing technology that saves us from financial disaster. As with all heroes -even anti-heroes- we see the villain strike a blow to it as well, when the “evil corporation” levvys blockchain technology in their own “E-coin” to try and retain its power.
As the coin moves further away from its infancy and more places adopt it we can expect to see Bitcoin mentioned in more of pop culture and you can expect us to tell you about it.
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