Ben McKenzie, a well-known actor who has been in programs such as Gotham and The OC, is speaking out against celebrities backing crypto ventures without seeming to disparage the technology.
Blockchain technology, according to Ben McKenzie, may still play a significant role in the future of finance, but “rich and famous people pushing these products” haven’t yet the trust of investors.
McKenzie made headlines in early October after collaborating with The New Republic senior writer Jacob Silverman on a Slate essay headlined “Celebrity Crypto Shilling Is a Moral Disaster.” The duo brought attention to Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account in early June, which was pushing the EthereumMax (EMAX) coin, a project whose price rose 116,000 percent in a week before plummeting by more than 99 percent, putting many investors in the red.
“From NFTs to crypto exchanges to their own bespoke currency offerings, celebrities are donating their names and promotional abilities to everything,” Silverman and McKenzie added. “Together, they’re messaging something simple but tragically misleading: that cryptocurrencies, as well as the numerous murky aspects of this gray-market economy, provide a road to long-term wealth.” “Almost usually, the reality is the polar opposite.”
They also stated:
“These rich and famous entertainers might as well be pushing payday loans or seating their audience at a rigged blackjack table. While the wild swings of crypto might be exciting for some, the rewards for many are illusory.”
Though the majority of Silverman and McKenzie’s criticism is directed at celebrities and influencers who may not be aware of the projects in which they appear to be urging their followers to invest, they have also targeted politicians.
Outside of just aiming to get notoriety, when New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams declared he would receive his first three paychecks in Bitcoin (BTC), the duo referred to it as “an embarrassingly dumb move.” It may set the bar higher for subsequent political candidates.
“Pledging fealty to the Bitcoin cult, promising to become a low-tax crypto playground, laying out the red carpet for the venture capitalists investing in this industry — these are rapidly becoming table stakes for tech-forward mayors,” said Silverman and McKenzie. “[It’s not] a good idea for a public servant to promote gambling with one’s entire paycheck in what is essentially an unlicensed, unregulated casino.”
Here’s a CNN video piece about what @ben_mckenzie and I are up to with all this crypto skeptic stuff.https://t.co/z3JJmlOclV— Jacob Silverman (@SilvermanJacob) November 30, 2021
On Nov. 23, CNN ran an interview with McKenzie, describing the actor as “essentially alone as a star ready to publicly defy the crypto trend.” Unlike certain experts, such as gold bug Peter Schiff, who often compares BTC investments to traditional assets, McKenzie appeared more concerned with the patterns around pump-and-dump ventures and their celebrity backers who are “unwittingly participating in something that is destructive to others.”
Crypto and blockchain technology, according to the actor, may still play a significant part in the future of finance, but “wealthy and renowned people peddling these goods” haven’t gained investors’ trust by making patently bogus claims.
McKenzie has no lack of stars to target, since numerous renowned athletes, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, have signed sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency exchanges. After starring in a TV commercial for Crypto.com, Matt Damon became one of the greatest celebrities to support a crypto company.
The ‘Crypto Critic’ duo added the following to their Slate post on Oct. 7:
“Whether it’s Lindsay Lohan peddling five-figure NFTs, laser-eyed Tom Brady endorsing the exchange FTX, or Akon promising to build a $6 billion, crypto-inspired city in Senegal, there’s a lot of capital swirling around this industry, and much cause for worry. Celebrities are encouraging their fans to gamble on speculative, unproven investments that may soon see a major regulatory crackdown, if not an outright implosion of the market.”