May 25, 2018

The Rise of Bitcoin in Pop Culture


Alex Mayer


relationship between Blockchain technology and movie industry

Technological advances have always had a platform to reach target markets through the tech industry’s relationship with Hollywood. The 80s was full of movies and TV shows in which characters marveled at new cars, introduced credit cards, and even featured more advanced games consoles. The 90s featured the first mobile phones, which are comically large to today’s audiences, even providing a grave marker for the pager, fax machines, and other past techs. The sweet spot is when a new piece of technology can be introduced in such a way that it is pivotal to the story: for instance, smartphones provide that heart-wrenching moment when a character sees the person’s name pop on their phone, someone they have had a fallout with, and after a pause decide to ignore the call. Now that’s drama.

The latest tech advancement to make a splash in TV shows and movies is Bitcoin. Bitcoin was released as an open-source software in 2009 and is credited as the world’s first cryptocurrency. This basically means that it is a form of digital currency that exists exclusively online. Some of the TV shows in which Bitcoin has been featured include The Simpsons, South Park, CSI Cyber, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Wife. These shows have mentioned the existence of Bitcoin but haven’t used its presence in a meaningful way. However, there are a few notable examples of Bitcoin being crucial to a story.

Rick Famuyiwa’s 2015 film, Dope, prominently features Bitcoin. The plot revolves around a group of high school students who find themselves thrown into the world of drug-dealing by trying to sell ecstasy on the dark web. At the time of writing Dope is the only film where Bitcoin is front and center in the story, but that is about to change as the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) are working on a film about Silk Road, the marketplace developed by Ross Ulbricht on the darknet.

Bitcoin is much more prevalent on television as there are a lot of shows that tell stories that heavily feature the tech industry. These include Mike Judge’s HBO comedy, Silicon Valley, who based a recent episode on the main character’s internet startup company Pied Piper pursue funding through ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). The episode was greeted with acclaim and was credited with giving the digital market great exposure.

Another show that heavily features Bitcoin is the psychological conspiracy thriller Mr. Robot, in which the digital currency becomes a major plot point in the show’s second season. Along with Mr. Robot is Amazon’s Startup, which stars Martin Freeman as an FBI agent who tracks a digital currency company that he knows, but can’t prove, is dirty.

Bitcoin has become the currency of the future, and its increasing exposure in popular culture strengthens its position meaning that it is increasingly unlikely that it will go the way of the fax machine, pager, the digital watch that was also a calculator.


Alex J. Mayer is a project manager at Double Impact Studio Corp. He doesn’t hold any cryptos but has a passion for new technologies.

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