For crypto satirist Brekkie von Bitcoin, a sense of humor is vital in an industry that often takes itself too seriously.
Coined Times talked with the U.S.-based crypto satirist about using comedy to express complex ideas in an accessible way.
Which came first for you – the crypto or the satire?
Satire I think has always been a part of my life in one form or another. The great comedian Mel Brooks has been one of my inspirations from an early age, so satire and comedy in general have been important tools for me in terms of how I understand and try to make sense of the world around me.
Could you briefly describe your creative process: How do you come up with your ideas?
Sure. With Blockchain and Morty the ideas usually come about one of two ways. Sometimes I’ll be watching reruns of Rick and Morty, and I’ll see a scene that just screams crypto. Many scenes do actually, and I sort of feel that I can “crypto-fy” almost any scene in the show to some extent.
But the other way I create episodes is more intentional and usually more difficult. There may be a specific topic I want to explore, and in that case I have to work backward and find a scene that fits the topic. Time-wise, every video is always different, but for a 1-2 minute video I can usually crank one out over the course of 1-2 days.
How long does it take to finish, say, a video for Blockchain and Morty?
It generally takes 1-2 hours to find the right scene(s), 1-3 hours to rewrite the episode, 2 hours to record, and then the editing process can really vary depending on whether or not I am modifying any of the animations or inserting graphics that then need to be animated. With the longer videos the process is the same, but can take much, much longer.
Is BvB a full-time job, or a side project?
Now it’s full-time. Satirical videos and memes were at first a way for me to explore topics and vent some of my frustration with scammers and other bad elements in crypto, but I’ve since branched out into making and selling crypto artwork and crypto-related apparel and merchandise.
Do you have any formal training as a video or sound editor?
No, not at all. My background is in film, but my training and work experience is as a producer. Before I got bit by the crypto bug, I had gotten my master’s degree in producing and then produced some small indie films. So I definitely have experience with storytelling, and I think I have an eye for what makes a good film or TV show, But in terms of video and sound editing, I’m entirely self-taught.
Do you think satire helps people comprehend something inherently complicated like blockchain/crypto? If so, why?
I think satire is incredibly important when it comes to comprehending the crypto and blockchain space as a whole. There are so many characters in crypto (real and cartoon avatars alike), and there are so many narratives being pushed.
Everyone has an agenda. Everyone has a bias. And as complicated as cryptography and coding a blockchain can be… The cultural landscape of crypto can be even more complicated.
I’m not so sure that satire can help people understand the intricacies of how Bitcoin works, for instance. But in terms of comprehending the big players and the even bigger narratives in crypto, I think that satire is not only helpful, but vital.
Do you take inspiration from any other satirists?
Mel Brooks, as I mentioned, is a huge inspiration to me. And I don’t know that I would call her a satirist per se, but Lucille Ball is another big comedic inspiration of mine.
More modern inspirations include Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame. I love that they are willing to tackle any issue no matter what the reaction might be. Sacha Baron Cohen is also one of my favorites. His character work is brilliant, and his overall silliness belies an intelligence and intention that I feel is sadly lacking from a lot of comedy these days.
Have you ever had any angry responses to your videos? Are there ever any copyright issues?
Generally, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. In my early videos I would get complaints about sound quality. Once I invested in a good microphone, those complaints stopped.
In terms of copyright issues, I’ve yet to face any consequences for any perceived infringement. My videos are in a grey area when it comes to copyright because unfortunately, the only way to know if they are breaking copyright laws would be if someone took me to court.
I’m of the belief that my videos are parodies and constitute fair use. In every video that might be considered copyright infringement by others, I am making a cultural critique and changing the underlying meaning to support that critique, which is the basis of most fair use defenses. That, and the fact that the videos are not for commercial use, which mine are not.
I’ve been offered good money on numerous occasions to make custom Blockchain and Morty videos for ICOs. Despite being tempted, I’ve refused to do so. Blockchain and Morty is a cultural exploration and critique, and I realized early on that commercializing the videos would not only make them illegal but would also compromise the very impact I was trying to make in the first place.
That being said … the YouTube filtering system has blocked some of my longer Blockchain and Morty videos. The rest of them are flagged as containing copyrighted material, preventing me from monetizing them. But as I’ve said, I’m not interested in monetizing them at all. And thanks to crypto, I’m able to display the longer videos on sites like Bit.Tube.
The crazy part about all of this is that there’s actually a famous video that YouTube displays as an example of fair use called “Right Wing Radio Duck,” that takes an old Donald Duck cartoon and pairs it with new audio to make a cultural critique. As far as I can tell, this is exactly what I’m doing as well.
Are you a true crypto believer? Or are you just in it for the Lambos?
Teslas over Lambos … but I am 100% a true crypto believer, and more specifically I am a Bitcoin believer. I’m not opposed to a multi-coin future, and I think when all the shitcoins settle, we’ll end up having a few major cryptocurrencies.
But I also believe that Bitcoin will one day become the native currency of the Internet. In terms of impact, Bitcoin is really what is going to change the world for the better when it comes to crypto.