miércoles, septiembre 28, 2022
InicioTechnologyBen McKenzie, “O.C.” Star, Pivots to Crypto Critic

Ben McKenzie, “O.C.” Star, Pivots to Crypto Critic


ROCKDALE, Texas — Ben McKenzie was driving his father’s silver Subaru via Texas farmland, speaking in breathless bursts about cash: who has it, who wants it, what makes it actual or faux. He detailed the perils of cryptocurrency exchanges, the web brokers that promote Bitcoin and Ether to speculators, then delivered a glowing endorsement of “Capital within the Twenty-First Century,” a 700-page ebook by the economist Thomas Piketty about earnings inequality and the facility of rich capitalists.

“If they’ll generate profits on it, they’ll do it,” Mr. McKenzie, 43, stated as he sped previous cattle farms and run-down fuel stations one morning in March.

Mr. McKenzie was on his strategy to Whinstone U.S., a crypto mining operation about an hour outdoors Austin, the place rows of energy-guzzling machines generate new Bitcoins. During the last six months, as A-list celebrities have shilled for digital currencies and NFTs, Mr. McKenzie, a TV actor finest recognized for his starring function in “The O.C.,” has change into an outspoken skeptic. He’s written critically in regards to the #advert for little-known cash that Kim Kardashian posted on Instagram and earnestly requested Reese Witherspoon to cease proselytizing in regards to the metaverse, all whereas acknowledging that he’s not a monetary professional.

“I’m only a former teen idol standing right here (alone?) asking folks to think about draw back threat and the opportunity of fraud,” he tweeted in February.

Mr. McKenzie rose to prominence within the early 2000s enjoying Ryan Atwood, a brooding, musclebound teenager from the fallacious facet of the tracks who strikes in with a rich household in Newport Seaside, Calif. After “The O.C.” wrapped, he went on to star in two different TV dramas, “Southland” and “Gotham,” each of which ran for 5 seasons.

However performing work dried up in the course of the pandemic, and like many individuals, Mr. McKenzie quickly discovered himself sucked down a crypto rabbit gap. After a few buddies inspired him to speculate, he took a 24-part on-line course on cryptocurrencies taught by Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Change Fee (or simply “Gary,” as Mr. McKenzie fondly calls him; they’ve by no means met).

The crypto market appeared tailored for fraud, Mr. McKenzie stated. He was satisfied the skyrocketing valuations of well-liked cash had been fueled by reckless hypothesis, moderately than any sensible utility of the expertise. “It doesn’t do what currencies do,” he stated. “It’s not a dependable retailer of worth, unit of account or medium of change.”

In August, Mr. McKenzie despatched a Twitter DM to Jacob Silverman, a tech author for The New Republic who had just lately revealed an essay titled “Even Donald Trump Is aware of Bitcoin Is a Rip-off.” “I’d love to select your mind,” the actor wrote. “Be happy to ignore this if it’s all too bizarre.”

Mr. Silverman, an “O.C.” viewer, was intrigued. He and Mr. McKenzie each stay in Brooklyn, they usually met for beer and burgers at Henry Public. Mr. McKenzie proposed a ebook undertaking; Mr. Silverman agreed on the spot. “I began additionally to know Ben’s sense of concern at what he noticed and on a regular basis folks doubtlessly getting fleeced,” Mr. Silverman stated. Abrams Press is planning to publish their ebook, “Simple Cash,” in 2023.

Mr. McKenzie stated his newfound ardour has left buddies “supportive however confused,” whereas his spouse, the previous “Gotham” star Morena Baccarin, is “simply uninterested in me speaking about it.” Mr. McKenzie has a bachelor’s diploma in economics from the College of Virginia, and over time he has sometimes chatted in regards to the intersection of legislation and finance along with his father, Pete Schenkkan, a regulatory lawyer in Austin. Nonetheless, Mr. Schenkkan stated, he was “astonished” to be taught of his son’s crypto fixation. “It was a leap sideways from the remainder of his life.”

The undertaking can be a deviation from what number of celebrities have approached crypto. Matt Damon appeared in a now-infamous industrial for Crypto.com, a buying and selling platform. Paris Hilton has been hawking NFTs. In an essay for Slate in October, Mr. Silverman and Mr. McKenzie wrote that celeb endorsements are exposing odd customers to scams reminiscent of “rug pulls,” by which an nameless developer solicits funds from traders after which disappears with the cash. “The Hollywoodization of crypto,” they wrote, “is an ethical catastrophe.”

Mr. McKenzie has joined a rising group of skeptics and critics referred to as “no-coiners.” In February, he appeared on “Crypto Critics’ Nook,” a podcast hosted by Bennett Tomlin and Cas Piancey, who publish two episodes every week in regards to the dangers of decentralized finance and different crypto ventures.

No-coiners are sometimes the targets of on-line abuse, although the trolling can run each methods. “I’ve picked a variety of fights,” Mr. Tomlin stated. “Usually I used to be the one attempting to provoke conflicts by attempting to level out to those who ‘Earlier than you stated this, now you’re saying this.’”

The no-coiners have a few of the similar idiosyncratic obsessiveness because the crypto bros; like their antagonists, they collect on Discord and Twitter to change suggestions and memes, they usually’re fluent in acronym-heavy jargon. Mr. McKenzie acknowledges that he’s an uncommon addition to their ranks, which consist largely of journalists, software program engineers and lecturers. “I’m an actor,” he stated. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Mr. McKenzie’s background additionally provides him some benefits. Many crypto bros attempt to silence skeptics with the identical mic drop: “Have enjoyable staying poor.” “They don’t use that line a lot with me,” Mr. McKenzie stated. “You need to examine real-money financial institution accounts?”

However within the noisy world of crypto, TV fame doesn’t essentially translate to affect. Earlier than setting out for the mine, Mr. McKenzie led a panel at South by Southwest known as “Belief Me I’m Well-known.” The session passed off in a big auditorium, with many rows of empty seats. A bunch of younger followers cheered when Mr. McKenzie launched himself as Ryan from “The O.C.,” then spent the remainder of the occasion glued to their smartphones whereas he held forth on the risks of unregulated securities buying and selling. (He discovered his 6-year-old daughter, Frances, slumped in her seat on the finish of the panel. “I do know it was boring,” he informed her. “Are you mad at me?”)

Nor did Mr. McKenzie’s celeb open any doorways at Whinstone, the place he and Mr. Silverman had been hoping to do some ebook analysis. When Mr. McKenzie pulled into the car parking zone, a concerned-looking safety guard requested him to establish himself. “I’m an actor,” Mr. McKenzie stated. Had the guard seen “Gotham”? No. What about “The O.C.”? Additionally no. “Ask your daughter about ‘The O.C.,’” Mr. McKenzie replied with a smile. A second safety guard stated he had watched “The O.C.” however didn’t acknowledge Mr. McKenzie.

After just a few extra minutes of confusion (one of many guards stored referring to the mine’s celeb customer as “Invoice McKlensley”), the safety workforce despatched Mr. McKenzie, Mr. Silverman and a cameraman who was documenting their journey to fulfill Chad Harris, a former Christmas tree salesman who now manages the Whinstone plant, which was acquired final 12 months by the publicly traded Bitcoin mining firm Riot Blockchain.

Mr. Harris appeared as comfy in entrance of the digital camera because the actor turned critic who’d confirmed as much as spar with him; he stated he’d given 1,000 excursions of the ability. When photographers arrive on the mine, he stated, “I do know which strategy to flip my shoulder.”

Mr. Harris stated he was assured he might go toe to toe with any skeptic; he bragged that he’d just lately schooled some crypto haters from Vice Information. “You possibly can’t bash one thing should you don’t know all of the information,” he stated. At one level, he boldly predicted that he might change Mr. McKenzie’s thoughts about crypto with a single sentence. He proceeded to talk for a number of minutes straight in regards to the financial advantages of Bitcoin mining.

Mr. Harris led Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Silverman via an unlimited warehouse full of tons of of whirring machines. The cameraman captured footage of Mr. McKenzie in a tough hat, nodding sagely whereas Mr. Harris defined the intricacies of the liquid-immersion cooling system that retains the mining machines from getting too scorching. On “The O.C.,” Ryan is a effectively of repressed emotion, not often betraying a touch of his ideas. Mr. McKenzie, conversely, is a chatterbox: For 2 hours, he grilled Mr. Harris on the power prices of crypto mining and the sensible utility of Bitcoin because the digital camera rolled.

Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Silverman have floated the thought of adapting their still-unwritten ebook into some type of Hollywood manufacturing. They’re modeling the undertaking on “The Large Brief,” Michael Lewis’s ebook in regards to the savvy traders who predicted the 2008 housing market crash. The film adaptation options Margot Robbie ingesting champagne in a tub as she explains the subprime mortgage disaster.

“Jacob and me in thongs,” Mr. McKenzie stated. “It will in all probability flip folks away.” Mr. Silverman laughed. “I’ll go to the gymnasium for one month,” he stated.

If that doesn’t work out, there’s at all times TV. Mr. McKenzie stated he pitched Josh Schwartz, the “O.C.” creator, on a reboot by which a cryptocurrency billionaire, possibly the son of Luke Ward, whose sequence arc traces an evolution from villain to beloved himbo, strikes to Newport Seaside and takes management of the native actual property market.

Mr. Schwartz “laughed politely,” Mr. McKenzie stated. (In an interview, Mr. Schwartz prompt an alternate crypto-themed follow-up involving complicated political machinations masterminded by Luke’s youthful brothers. He added that Seth Cohen, Ryan’s geeky finest buddy performed by Adam Brody, would “undoubtedly be attempting to promote some NFTs.” Mr. Brody, reached by textual content, stated he agreed. “Or he’d be promoting bongs out of a van,” he stated. “I don’t know.”)

After the tour, Mr. Harris led Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Silverman to a constructing that the mining employees name “the White Home” — the location of the mine’s government workplace. Standing by the door, Mr. McKenzie pressed Mr. Harris on his cryptocurrency commitments. Wasn’t it simply one other type of playing? A high-stakes poker recreation with no actual societal worth?

Mr. Harris shrugged. He stated he was comfy taking monetary dangers. “Give it some thought in parallel with your individual life,” he stated. Mr. McKenzie had taken a break from performing and put his popularity on the road to put in writing a ebook arguing that the nation’s tech elites are selling a glorified Ponzi scheme. “Life’s a big gamble,” Mr. Harris stated.

For a break up second, Mr. McKenzie appeared like Ryan Atwood once more, brooding thoughtfully.

“That’s true,” he stated. “That’s true.”




Por favor ingrese su comentario!
Por favor ingrese su nombre aquí