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Jacobin - January 26, 2022

NFTS are the latest symptom of a decadent and increasingly post-democratic consensus resting on little more than predatory rent-seeking and boundless commodification.

Sometimes a single image or episode capturing triumph, tragedy, or disaster sums up the spirit of a moment better than prose ever could. In pondering the most iconic frames in American history, several obvious candidates come to mind: the flag raising on Iwo Jima; the beaming face of a relaxed John F. Kennedy seconds before he met an assassin’s bullet; Neil Armstrong moved to tears in the cockpit of Apollo 11 following communion with the infinite on the surface of the Moon. Though it may never be elevated to the same illustrious perch, it’s difficult to think of anything quite so evocative or emblematic of our own stupendously stupid time than this week’s sublimely bizarre segment of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon featuring Paris Hilton. True to the genre, most of the conversation between Hilton and Fallon is classic late-night schtick, the kind of mindlessly innocuous banter you idly catch out of one eye while falling asleep or stumble upon after giving up on Netflix for the third time in two hours. Things then quickly take a turn for the weird when Fallon asks about Hilton’s NFT hobby (Hilton, incidentally an early pioneer in the postmodern commodification of the self, is currently ranked at #7 in Forbes’ NFT Top 50), and the two carry out what can only be described as a sort of a scripted infomercial somewhere between low-effort celebrity ad read and probable hostage video.

im almost convinced that someone has dirt on every celebrity getting into NFTs because this clip is just WEIRD. genuinely feels like they're being held hostage lmfao wtf is going on
— inabber 🦦 (@iNabber69) January 25, 2022

As vaguely dystopian mad libs go, “Paris Hilton Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT” is already about as emblematically 2022 as it gets. Channeled through Hilton and Fallon’s hilariously strained delivery, however — watch the clip for yourself and you’ll see it’s easy enough to imagine that the host is taking his cues from masked gunmen holding placards just off screen — the whole thing soon passes into an entirely new realm of the bizarre. Here’s a short sample:

FALLON: [Since you were last on the show] Forbes has named you one of the top 50 most influential people in the NFT space, so congrats on that.

HILTON: Thank you, I’m so proud. I love being a part of this community and being a voice and sharing my platform and just getting the word out there. Cause I think it’s just such an incredible thing to be a part of.

FALLON: Yeah, I jumped in.

HILTON: I know, I heard. I’m so happy I taught you what they were.

FALLON: You did, you taught me what’s up and then I bought an ape.

HILTON: I got an ape too, because I saw you on the show with Beeple and he said you got on MoonPay so I went and I copied you and did the same thing.

There’s plenty more in this vein, the two showing off their respective ape JPEGs before Hilton announces an Oprah-style giveaway for the blockchain era and gifts everyone in the audience with her latest NFT, declaring the moment “iconic” as the show cuts to break.

Non-Fungible Bullshit
Beginning at some point in 2021, the Non-Fungible Token — the latest cryptocurrency-adjacent fad to sweep the nation — was suddenly everywhere. As if by way of some unknowable alchemic process, it seemed, people were somehow turning a profit by trading thoroughly unremarkable clip art images while others were inexplicably shelling out big to claim their title deeds. ...
Read full report at Jacobin