Opinion – The Meaning of Miami’s Castrated Bitcoin Bull
By Daniel Kuhn
“[In] Miami we have big balls,” Mayor Suarez said on CoinDesk TV, referring to the Bitcoin 2022 statue that lacks that anatomical part.
Standing 11 feet tall and glistening in the southern sun, “The Miami Bull” statue has been called both “a crime against god” and “pretty cool.” The robotic reimagining of the Wall Street landmark is 3,000 pounds, made of chrome and fiberglass and sports blue laser eyes. Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez said it speaks to the city’s vitality.
“I can tell you, [in] Miami we have big balls. That’s all I can tell you,” he said on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Thursday.
The statue, however, does not.
Almost immediately after it was unveiled outside the Miami Beach Convention Center on Monday, kicking off the first day of the global Bitcoin 2022 conference, observers noted the robotic totem with hooves and horns lacked that one crucial anatomical detail. Its creator, Furio Tedeschi, hadn’t intended for the bull to be a steer.
“I’d designed some huge, mechanical balls,” Tedeschi, who has done art design for the “Transformers” film series, from which his latest work draws inspiration, told Forbes. Apparently, TradeStation, the Florida-based trading platform that commissioned the mechanical statue removed those assets to avoid feeding the gendered stereotypes about finance.
Suarez, who spoke at the bull’s unveiling, is working to turn Miami into a hub of modern finance – the “capital of capital,” he often says. He has drawn paychecks in bitcoin, offers tax incentives for crypto, fintech and investment firms to relocate and even christened the city’s own cryptocurrency, Miami Coin.
“I think what it symbolizes is the metamorphosis from the old economy to the new economy,” Suarez said, about the bull.
The bull is a potent sign of energy coursing through Miami and the cryptocurrency industry. But it is odd that this “new economy” is using the language and imagery of the old. Has much really changed?
Asked just that, Suarez disclaimed credit. “And of course, you know, this is something that TradeStation did, I didn’t do it, you know, their idea, to be honest with you,” he said.
(He also walked back his previous steadfast support of Miami’s Stacks-based “city coin,” saying it’s “too inflationary” to be useful as a currency, though praising the demand for and “tremendous buzz” around it. “It’s a great idea, but … you have to get all the dynamics right. And and I think that dynamic is a little out of whack,” he said.)
Bulls on parade
Miami’s bull is not the first to challenge Wall Street. “Fearless Girl” was installed on March 7, 2017, the day before International Women’s Day, in front of the famed “Charging Bull” statue, where it remains standing today.
Designed by feminist sculptor Kristen Visbal, and commissioned by asset-management firm State Street to advertise its gender-diversity index fund, the statue has both been hailed as protest against corporate America’s lack of diversity and criticized as commercialist propaganda.
Visbal, in fact, is engaged in a years-long legal dispute with State Street over the right to sell miniatures and recastings of “Fearless Girl.” Last year, she sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of the stalwart child partly to fund her legal campaign.
Some who gaze upon the robo-bull might see a new path forward. For all crypto’s faults, including being captured by the industry it looks to supplant, it offers an alternative to traditional finance. Decentralized systems are truly user blind and open to all.
Perhaps that’s the message TradeStation wanted to communicate.
Whether a statement of protest or something more gauche, “The Miami Bull” is here to stay. TradeStation President and CEO John Bartleman told CoinDesk TV the statue will move in front of Miami Dade College after the crypto conference wraps.
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