2017 was a record-breaking year for Bitcoin. Taking the financial markets by storm, 2017 delivered watershed moment after watershed moment for the world’s leading cryptocurrency. Thanks to Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency market has become one of the most hotly discussed topics in the world. It’s amazing to see Bitcoin under the spotlight as a viable digital currency that has traders chomping at the bit to buy and “hodl”. What’s helped increased Bitcoin’s notoriety has been its mainstream acceptance, as it’s now a TV mainstay.
Leading broadcasters, TV shows, news outlets, and celebrities seemingly couldn’t pass by the chance to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon. As Bitcoin’s amazing bull-run reached its peak towards the end of last year, no respectable media outlet could afford not to report on the growing cryptocurrency market. It then became a case of many of these news organizations reveling in Bitcoin’s tumble at the start of 2018, showing that the spotlight can swing both ways.
Whether it’s positive or negative, Bitcoin hasn’t been out of the spotlight for some time. The following looks at how the mainstream media has picked up the subject of Bitcoin and how it has presented it to an audience of millions.
Ellen’s less than flattering look at Bitcoin
Ellen DeGeneres was once a leading comedian and sitcom writer, but these days she is better known for her daily chat show. The Ellen Show is a flagship show for NBC, with it sweeping up Emmy awards year on year – over 50 in total – and having one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world. Her popularity has crossed borders, to the point where her voice matters to many. Not letting the hot topic of the moment pass her by. Ellen delivered a tongue-in-cheek segment on Bitcoin that ramped up the laughs, even if it didn’t exactly do much to explain what Bitcoin actually is or what it’s capable of.
Designed to provide more giggles than definitions, the segment poked fun at anyone that tries to keep up without a cryptocurrency conversation in spite of not having any idea what it is. Ellen said, “Everybody is talking about Bitcoin, nobody understands it. It’s like a plot twist in a confusing movie, when you’re watching a movie and your friends are acting like they know what’s going on, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I do too.’” She also had advice for anyone that needs a bit of help in understanding Bitcoin, “Pretend like Bitcoin is a goat. Now it’s adorable and you want to pick it up and you want to pet it. But you can’t because it’s not there, it doesn’t exist except for on that Internet right there, just like Bitcoin is digital currency.”
Ellen’s Bitcoin explanation is funny – we’ve even included the full segment below – but it doesn’t actually do anything to further explain what the cryptocurrency is. She also took several “cheap shots” at hardware wallets and Bitcoin trading, which Bitcoin-enthusiasts probably didn’t appreciate all that much.
Some satirical insight from John Oliver
John Oliver might have been known for his cameo role on cult TV show Community, but in recent times he’s become notorious for his outspoken current affairs show Last Week Tonight. Pulling no punches, he hasn’t been afraid to address Bitcoin, delivering an insightful and somewhat skeptical look at the world’s leading cryptocurrency.
Known for his astute and intellectual comedy, Oliver wasn’t afraid to take a more serious look at Bitcoin on his show – unpacking Bitcoin, addressing how it works, along with pros and cons of its use. Blended with his usual British humor, Oliver really did offer up some interesting insight into both Bitcoin and Blockchain. “Many people believe that the really exciting thing about it is the potential of the innovative technology it’s built on and that is called Blockchain”, he said.
Throughout his show he highlighted the effectiveness of Blockchain, proving that Bitcoin has the power to beat traditional bank transactions when it comes to both fees and speed. When you compare this to Ellen’s two-minute segment on Bitcoin, it proves to be a case of night and day. Oliver shows little fear in addressing both the upside and downside of cryptocurrencies, looking into everything from conventional company use to firms adopting the term “Blockchain” as a means to pump stock price. He even looks at the ICO phenomenon, issuing a warning regarding the ridiculously long list of cryptos created by startups.
Namechecking the likes of BTC, ETH, and DOGE, along with popular crypto slang such as Hodl, Moon, Rekt, and FUD, Oliver pretty much delivers a cryptocurrency crash course.
From The Big Bang Theory to The Good Wife
Bitcoin seems to the topic of choice for chat show hosts right now, but that’s not the only form of TV medium that’s been putting cryptocurrency front and center. World famous TV sitcoms have also been addressing the Bitcoin phenomenon in a roundabout kind of way. Quite fittingly, The Big Bang Theory has dedicated an episode to Bitcoin. Titled “The Bitcoin Entanglement”, it didn’t exactly win over critics. Motherboard’s Jordan Pearson was particularly critical of the episode, feeling that it didn’t do enough to explain Bitcoin and that it had a duty to do so given its huge audience.
Other leading TV shows, such as The Simpsons, The Good Wife, and Morgan Spurlock Inside Man have also dedicated full episodes to Bitcoin. This just shows the outreach and appeal that Bitcoin has, with the cryptocurrency making a notable impact within the world of prime-time TV.
Is better Bitcoin representation required?
In recent years, Bitcoin has had a touch of Hollywood about it – just look at the number of celebrity adopters around for confirmation. This is without discussing the growing trend of celebrity linked ICOs that have become dominant across practically every form of social media. However, when you look at the facts, you’ll find that Bitcoin’s TV appearances have represented something of a double-edged sword. For every John Oliver that presents an open and fair look at Bitcoin, there is an Ellen DeGeneres that tends to do the opposite.
It’s great to see Bitcoin breach the mainstream and become a TV mainstay, as it shows just how far the cryptocurrency has come. But, there is an argument that it’s not always being represented in the best possible way. Let’s hope that in 2018 Bitcoin is viewed in a more progressive fashion by the mainstream media, with the throwaway chit-chat becoming a thing of the past.