Fyre Festival documentaries highlight wrongdoings

By AMANDA KARP
On February 4, 2019

Photo courtesy of Fyre Fraud, Wikipedia

“Fyre Festival” is back in the news as two documentaries, “Fyre” on Netflix and “Fyre Fraud” on Hulu, explore what went wrong when it came to creating the greatest music festival failure in history.

The festival was set to take place over two weekends on what was promoted to be Pablo Escobar’s private island, with upscale living arrangements, good food, social media influencers and bands. However, these promises did not come to fruition, to say the least.

The Hulu documentary was released four days before the Netflix adaptation on Jan. 14, but both documentaries draw the viewer in with the core message of the fraud committed by organizer Billy McFarland.

Although they take different routes to explain how it all went down, they both start with McFarland and the other failed ventures in his history before the Fyre Festival planning.

“Fyre Fraud” takes an in depth look at McFarland’s past, especially his failed company Magnises, which was essentially a knock-off American Express Black Card which promised exclusive events but fell short. It also includes an interview with McFarland himself, which does little to redeem him as most questions he refuses to answer.

“Fyre” focuses more of the events immediately surrounding the festival, such as the marketing from F*** Jerry Media, the stress of the employees to finish building festival infrastructure and the fallout from the attendees as it blew up on social media.

One of the more aggravating parts of “Fyre” was how it chronicled the aftermath for McFarland and how he was planning another business in order to con people into giving him money to pay off his loans. While he planned this, he was out on bail living in a penthouse, and had a videographer recording his plans.

“Fyre” also highlights the effect that the festival had on the locals on Great Exuma, featuring an interview with Maryann Rolle, who owns the Exuma Point Restaurant.

“I went through about $50,000 of my own savings that I could have had for a rainy day,” Rolle said. “They just wiped it out and never looked back.”

An article on Vulture also noted how Hulu’s documentary analyzes the “generational issues” that helped Fyre “‘[tap] into all the biggest millennial trends,’ referring to, among other things, the desire to cultivate an image on social media and an eagerness to be in close proximity to influencers.”

It highlighted how millennials are more susceptible to social media postings that boast clout amongst influencers, and how they buy into it for the chance to be revered as influencers are.

The documentaries end on the note of McFarland’s conviction on two counts of wire fraud, as he defrauded investors out of $26 million, and has been serving time in prison since October 2018.

It was almost satisfying to watch the interview with McFarland in “Fyre Fraud.” A majority of the time, McFarland sat silently, unable to defend his actions that had led to his demise – but it would not undo the damage done to all those duped by McFarland.


 

akarp@ramapo.edu

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