CryptoDickbutts was born in 2021, and it quickly cemented its place in NFT history and culture. At this point, it’s an essential project that every self-proclaimed NFT aficionado must be familiar with to be taken seriously. Need proof? CryptoDickbutts has a dedicated space in Punk6529’s Open Metaverse, more than 1700 unique holders, and a total volume of over 7k ETH on OpenSea. The NFTs regularly sell for thousands of dollars, and during the 2022 NFT market collapse, it was one of the few projects that kept the same floor price.
How did a project that is literally about dick-butts achieve such popularity? And does the collection actually have any staying power?
Surprisingly, sussing this out is far from easy. There are many nuanced reasons for its accelerated growth and continued popularity. What’s more, NFTs are still largely a new phenomenon. So it’s exquisitely hard to predict what the future will bring. Here, we do our best to identify the factors that contributed to the rise of CryptoDickbutts, dive into the core elements of the NFT project that make it a powerful representative symbol of Web3, and attempt to predict where it’s headed.
Hold tight. This one is going to be a long, hard ride.
The story of CryptoDickbutts
Dick Butt was initially born more than fifteen years ago. Specifically, it came into being on July 2nd, 2006 in a webcomic by KC Green. It was called “Tree, You’ve Been Good to Us” and was created as part of his Horribleville series.
The Dick Butt character went viral almost instantly.
Internet users around the world began creating their own versions and posted them across 4chan, Reddit, and similar sites. A defining moment arrived less than a year later, when an entry about “dickbutts” was added to Urban Dictionary on April 12, 2007. Shortly after that, in June of 2009, BuzzFeed included a Dick Butt comic in a feature on the site. Further cementing its cultural significance and impact, on April 27, 2015, BuzzFeed created a multi-pane comic that included the iconic character — which was now solidly a meme — in a drawing.
Due to its widespread popularity, Green was unable to control the character’s narrative or brand affiliations. As a result, he denounced all association with his creation in 2021.
Consequently, the CryptoDickbutts NFT collection isn’t actually associated with the original creator. Rather, this most recent iteration of the character was born in the CryptoPunks discord, where it was created in homage to (and as a gift for) several early holders of CryptoPunks NFTs.
The original release for CryptoDickbutts consisted of Series 1 and Series 2, which were capped at 52 and 104 NFTs respectively. Collectively, these are known as the “OG version.” However, due to widespread popularity, these collections were shortly followed by an extended Series 3 in July 2021. This third collection has 5200 NFTs in total.
In the months following the mint, the NFT collection saw immense growth and successfully established itself as a legitimate brand. The project received a head nod from Naughty America, the team created an online store, and CryptoDickbutts even had an exclusive CryptoDickbutt ball hosted by Meltem Demirors. There were also a host of derivatives and artistic collaborations with some of the biggest names in NFTs — including Killer Acid, Sergs, 3D Alpacadabraz, and Gremplin.
CryptoDickbutts today: Meet the DAO
Today, the CryptoDickbutts community continues to be vibrant and strong. In fact, the community established a DAO. The CryptoDickbutt DAO’s members include any current NFT holder across the OG and Series 3 collections. Its mission? To acquire a physical “Gooch Island,” which will give the holders (and their CryptoDickbutt NFTs) a place to roam freely.
The raison d’etre for this mission extends from lore the community invented around the characters. In short, the story is thus: The various CryptoDickbutts were all exiled from Gooch Island after a period of great unrest. The former utopia is now in disrepair and nearly unlivable, save for the sole inhabitant known as Cryptoadz Leader Colonel Floorbin. The CryptoDickbutts are now working to get back home.
As the search for the island is still underway, any holder is invited to join and work to fundraise, identify potential locations, and develop a plan for the ongoing management of a soon-to-be reclaimed utopia.
That is essentially the story of CryptoDickbutts. And now, on to covering how the heck it got so popular and achieved so much.
Leveraging comedic appeal and satire
At the risk of oversimplifying things, after the most basic needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are met (food, safety, and so on), you get into the needs that are less needs and more desires. These include things like aesthetic pleasure and higher emotional needs. To this end, most commercial products and services are marketed to evoke emotions through strategic narratives and cultural signifiers.
Luxury brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ferrari, and Lamborghini are just some of the many examples that cater to feelings of significance and social signaling.
Although a vast majority of unicorn NFT projects like CryptoPunks and BAYC started at prices that are relatively affordable (and in some cases even free), for better or worse, the projects are now associated with qualities akin to the aforementioned brands. In other words, they are status symbols. Owning one makes the holder feel important and like they have a meaningful connection to other holders. In an interview with nft now, prominent NFT collector GMoney noted that he purchased his CryptoPunk for exactly this reason i.e., because he wanted the status that came with it. “With an NFT, by posting it as my avatar on Twitter and discord, I can quickly ‘flex’ with a picture….It has the same effect as wearing that Rolex in real life, but digitally,” he said.
This is cultural signaling only exacerbated by the recent influx of celebrities buying into projects like CryptoPunks and BAYC.
But while ego and hierarchies are inherent to our social and biological discourse as human beings, the braggadocious element of flaunting a six-figure or multimillion-dollar NFT also causes resentment from those who can’t afford the items. And even when that’s not the case, there are always counter cultural individuals who go against the grain and are diametrically opposed to mainstream cultural mores.
This ultimately creates an emotional pull towards NFTs that represent the antipode of traditionally valued classes through self-effacing and satirical humor.
We can see this exemplified through CryptoDickbutts. First, the project was created as a joke. It never had lofty goals or ambitions. Second, it is a dick meshed with a butt. It’s hard to imagine an image that could more effectively satirize premier NFT projects and communities.
So, in short, many flock to the CryptoDickbutts collection because it mocks the overly serious, self-indulgent NFT careerists, influencers, and investors that use PFP NFTs to farm engagement and curate public perception.
Furthermore, given the influence of self-identity with the PFP genre, an argument can be made that just as inherent wealthy or seasoned collectors may identify with the narratives of a CryptoPunk, Murakami flower, or Fidenza, so too are CryptoDickbutts representative of those who have the ability to laugh at themselves and simply share in the collective appreciation of this new form of memetic comedy.
In essence, while not everyone can appreciate or relate to the subtleties of generational wealth, everyone does have the capacity to laugh at a silly meme. In this regard, CryptoDickbutts status as a viral sensation was almost a guarantee.
Preserving the original ideals and essence of CryptoPunks
People who identify as punks see themselves as a collective of independent thinkers, rather than a cohesive community. The same is true of CryptoPunk holders. However, a recent IP transition granted CryptoPunks holders commercial rights to their NFTs. Now, any holder can build out a personal brand for their CryptoPunk NFTs.
This has muddied the ethos of the collection, which was initially inspired by the London Punk culture of the 1970s. Does someone buy a CryptoPunk because they identify with ultra-wealthy investors like Jordan Belfort or Gary Vaynerchuk? Or do they stay away because of the association with these people? The question clearly plagues some NFT collectors, and it pushes them towards projects that currently better represent the “degenerate” ethos that first gave birth to the NFT community — projects like CryptoDickbutts.
The original anti-monopolistic sentiments of CryptoPunks is weakening, but the sentiment remains strong in its community-born progeny i.e., the CryptoDickbutts collection. This drives many who are longing for that former punks feel to the CryptoDickbutts NFTs. In fact, the contract address and name of the collection both highlight key themes of crypto culture (420…691D1B).
Leveraging a CC0 framework
While commercial rights may suit collectors with the experience and resources to build personal brands, when it comes to the influence of NFTs, a CC0 framework (Creative Commons) offers more flexibility and room to scale in some directions. Specifically, CryptoDickbutts are beloved because of the CC0 licensing, which gives it an innate ability to resist corporate alignment. This allows the project to grow and scale without losing its core ethos, and it stands to reason that this lends the project staying power.
Furthermore, CC0 frameworks helped create the success of Web2. Various platforms built on top of the internet were able to spread quickly because of the open, collaborative effort of coders the world over. In the same way, CC0 collections such as CryptoDickbutts function as an open-source library for the metaverse. They invite new users to experiment, build, and grow. This benefits the individual and also CrytopDickbutts’ brand, helping it expand and gain even more staying power.
Another powerful indicator of the value and standing power of an NFT collection is the amount of organic social cohesion and community overlap it has. This is seen in the overlap of creators and shared lore between CryptoDickbutts and CrypToadz, which has even inspired hybrid collections like Dicktoadz that people can customize and build for themselves.
Ethereum as a foundation
The underlying blockchain also determines the future success or decline of various collections. While Ethereum has dominated the discourse around NFTs, ambiguity remains with the nature of the protocol post-merge.
Regardless, a theory among Ethereum aficionados is that as more layer 2’s emerge, a majority of Layer 1 resources will be spent powering these newer infrastructures. The result is that, while Layer 2 will allow for larger collection sizes due to the significantly cheaper transaction fees, NFTs built on L1 (including derivatives) will become an uncommon relic by default, as conducting activity on any layer 1 will be too expensive for most individuals.
This is especially the case with on-chain collectibles that mitigate against the potential risk of images being changed or removed if marketplaces close or stop paying fees for data hosting.
While not on-chain, as CDBs are an Ethereum-based collection, so long as the core developers continue to improve on the protocol’s functionality, so will the memetic impact of a dickbutt forever remain for posterity to admire.
The phallus as a cultural motif
The one is more of a stretch. But along with its innate comedic power, the phallus is a core motif in CryptoDickbutts and could be another factor contributing to its widespread popularity. The importance of the phallus symbol dates back more than 8,000 years.
According to historians, phallic charms (often winged) were ubiquitous in Roman culture and frequently appeared as jewelry and ornaments such as pendants, finger rings, lamps, and more. These were known as fascinus. The image also features prominently in Pagan and Wiccan practices. For example, in Raven Grimassi’s Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, the fascinus is cited as one of the most effective talismans against dark sorcery.
Further examples of related symbolism include the ancient Egyptian deity Min, frequently shown holding his erect phallus. Regions spanning across the Far East such as Indonesia, India, Korea, and Japan are no exception either, often using the phallus as a symbol of fertility in motifs on their temples and in everyday life.
It only makes sense that humans in modern society also feel a connection with the phallic symbol.
Storytelling and lore
From religious and historical allegories to beloved fictional tales like Harry Potter, stories have the power to embed generational values, preserve cultural motifs, and shape our overarching social and evolutionary discourse. They can also unite and divide communities in shared appreciation or detest of characters and their respective journeys.
While a more subtle aspect, the story and journey that CryptoDickbutts is crafting uses relatable elements of light-hearted humor. But more than that, at its core, it reflects key cultural motifs. Specifically, there is the image of the wandering protagonist who is seeking self-actualization through the prophetic vision and end-goal that is Gooch Island.
And in that respect, given our drive to find purpose and meaning in life, it is something we can all relate to.