Spike Lee has never been one to shy away from directing and appearing in a commercial. Back in the ‘80s, you had Lee show up with Michael Jordan to direct the iconic black and white commercials for Nike. At the time, a Black filmmaker directing and appearing in a commercial with a Black athlete was seen as revolutionary. But in 2021, it appears Lee is ready to put his name and legacy behind another cause—cryptocurrency.
As seen in the new Coin Cloud ad (or “short film” if you prefer), Spike Lee is front and center promoting the joys of cryptocurrency versus regular US money. Why is he promoting digital currency in a commercial? Well, he was probably paid a decent amount of money, but also, he positions crypto as the currency for non-white, underprivileged people, talking about how crypto is the currency for LGBTQ people, as well as POCs. It’s an interesting argument, but you can’t help but feel just a little uneasy about this argument being made in a commercial for a corporation that aims to convince you to use its machines to access your digital money. Just like how LGBTQ folks are a little turned off by the idea of Pride Month being co-opted by corporations that use rainbow imagery from June 1 to June 30 before immediately going back to how it was before.
Interestingly, when the new Spike Lee-directed ad went live, there was a new series of tweets from Jackson Palmer, the creator of Dogecoin (one of the most talked-about cryptocurrencies). And even though Spike Lee is trying to sell people on the fact that crypto is for the regular people, Palmer has other thoughts.
“After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight, and artificially enforced scarcity,” he tweeted. “Despite claims of ‘decentralization,’ the cryptocurrency industry is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures who, with time, have evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.”
He added, “The cryptocurrency industry leverages a network of shady business connections, bought influencers, and pay-for-play media outlets to perpetuate a cult-like ‘get rich quick’ funnel designed to extract new money from the financially desperate and naive. Financial exploitation undoubtedly existed before cryptocurrency, but cryptocurrency is almost purpose-built to make the funnel of profiteering more efficient for those at the top and less safeguarded for the vulnerable.”
Yeah, so take that for what it’s worth.
Joining Lee in the commercial are folks like Kendrick Sampson, MJ Rodriguez, Shangela, and Teyana Taylor, amongst many more.
Here’s the synopsis for the short film, er, commercial:
The digital rebellion is here! Don’t believe Spike Lee? Well, we have the receipts: you’re currently on your digital device visiting a digital website watching a digital video about digital currency. There’s no debate. Old money is out. New money is in.
And here’s the Twitter thread from Palmer, if you want to read his whole argument: