A review of a predominantly German-language film that challenges the misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding Bitcoin.
The human side of Bitcoin (BTC) is seldom explored in legacy or mainstream crypto media outlets. Even within the Bitcoin space, Bitcoin is “number goes up” technology, while catchphrases like “Bitcoin to the moon” and “have fun staying poor” rattle around like coins in a jar.
Bitcoin documentaries tend to sensationalize Bitcoin as a panacea to the world’s problems instead of offering nuanced portrayals of Bitcoin’s impact on the individuals who form the decentralized movement.
Moreover, while the price per Bitcoin has inflated, ballooned and popped over the past five years, a steady stream of new people is flowing into the Bitcoin space. Human B follows the journey of a man named Jan as he becomes a resolute Bitcoin believer. The film hovers around Jan, the “normal citizen” who, during a break between jobs, starts to learn more about fiat, or government-issued, money.Jan was an editor and musician prior to his journey into Bitcoin.
In the film, Jan explains that fiat money is “bad” because it’s limitless. Fiat money is designed to lose its purchasing power over time.
“I was extremely irritated at first because I thought, how is this possible? Why am I just casually discovering this while all the experts are wrong?”
The epiphany sends him spiraling down the proverbial Bitcoin rabbit hole, and he sets off on a journey to Miami, Florida. “I’m not the first to run into a crowd,” he concedes, but “I feel that this is about something really crucial.”
The film also interviews a number of key figures in the industry, including Marc Friedrich, a best-selling German author; Alessandro Ceceres, a Venezuelan who is now marketing manager at Luxor; and Anita Posch, a Bitcoin activist. These interviews provide valuable insights into the motivations and goals of the people driving growth in the Bitcoin economy, as well as their thoughts on the future of this emerging technology.
An artsy, nuanced take that avoids cliché, lazy pop culture memes and slapdash cutaways to soundbites of Michael Saylor, Max Keiser or Jack Mallers, directors Aaron Mucke and Eva Mühlenbäumer take a soft approach to the story arc. At a gentle rhythm, the story uses wit, character and charisma to give life to Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.
Pierre Corbin, a Bitcoin consultant and documentary maker shared his opinion on Human B with Cointelegraph: “I liked how the beginning shows the Bitcoin culture and the passion of the people working in the space, all while being intellectuals. It is shown for newbies that are not maxis and understand the Bitcoin pop culture. I could show it to my family and maybe they would finally understand why I am obsessed.”
Among the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film takes the viewer from Germany to Austria to Mexico and, finally, to Miami, where El Salvador's Bitcoin Law is first announced. And while the film’s focus is on protagonist Jan, who slowly plans, then executes, his trip to Miami’s Bitcoin 2021 Conference. The documentary collates quirky interviews with well-known German Bitcoiners.
Gigi, a pseudonymous household name among Bitcoin circles, stars as a giggly, eccentric man dressed in a greenscreen suit. To those new to Bitcoin, Gigi is a software engineer and Bitcoin author whose true identity is not known.Gigi in his element.
He bounces around an art studio, explaining complex Bitcoin concepts with graffiti. The German paints Bitcoin equations onto white walls while sporting a chroma-key bodysuit, sunglasses fit for a Matrix remake and over-ear headphones. He chuckles away to the viewer, explaining that Bitcoin employs “meme warfare.”Gigi sits on a Matrix chair, taking the viewer through "meme warfare."
Elsewhere, a relaxed Anita Posch — another German-speaking Bitcoin educator — details her love of Bitcoin’s use in Africa. She narrates personal stories while the camera follows her cycle through rolling Austrian hills, such as the story behind the Bitcoin tattoo on her wrist. She explains that the thunderbolt–a nod to the Lightning Network–stands for “energy,” when asked by those who haven’t understood Bitcoin yet.
The tattoo scene is a neat hint at one of the film’s underlying messages: Bitcoin is misunderstood. Rooted under the headlines, the mudslinging and the memes that dominate the Bitcoin space, the profound impact of Bitcoin on human lives is slowly bearing fruit. From Senegal to El Salvador, Switzerland to Indonesia, stories of how Bitcoin has changed lives for the better are gracing the world — but those stories live underneath the headlines.Posch cycles through central Europe.
Support and analysis from mainstream reporter Friedemann Brenneis fleshes out further details on why Bitcoin is so misunderstood. He pins media headlines to a board, demonstrating that, contrary to popular reports that Bitcoin is dead, there’s “more to it than the media reports.”Brenneis takes stock of mainstream media narratives.
As Corbin told Cointelegraph, Human B is the sort of documentary that you could show to friends or family who are not sold on Bitcoin and they might finally get it. Plus, the animations and narrative details are well-crafted yet instructive. Corbin highlighted one of these creative touches: “For example, when the fiat monetary system is explained and the banker gives out the loans by pressing ‘Enter’ repeatedly.”
In all, amid a sea of Bitcoin documentaries that, at times, feel like propaganda or clarion calls for greater Bitcoin adoption, Human B is a thoughtful, personal account. It recently hit 250,000 views on YouTube and is also available on Vimeo.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.