Social Media is a helluva drug.
For every great event or business to succeed nowadays, apparently you have to have a great social media presence. A good post will have people scrambling for more. And a bad post will have people scrambling even harder. Such is the blessing and curse of the Social Media age, or as I like to refer to it, the Troll Generation.
One of the biggest casualties of this effect came in the form of the “Fyre Festival”, an event that was billed as a Coachella on a private island for only a certain few. There would be supermodels, villas, private yachts, and for some reason an island of pigs. And you could have all this, plus performances from some pretty big names, all at about $10,000, give or take a few dozen thousands.
People flocked to the idea of this event because of the great job their marketing agency did on promoting the event. An orange block, posted on the Social Media accounts of some of the internet’s biggest influencers, had people talking. A video of supermodels partying together with some other douchebags had people believing that this was exactly the kind of experience they would be getting. One thing people had talked about was the presence of FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, in that they didn’t wanna miss this event. You had to be there. If you weren’t there, you were nothing.
And then…it flopped. Poor planning on everyone’s sides. Fraud. Lies. Inhabitable areas. Tents instead of Villas. Bands dropping out because of a lack of payment, safety and guarantees. And the image that brought every one into this story: A promised catered event by some high end restaurants that only ended up serving some bread, cheese and a crappy salad. Everything that could have gone wrong, did. And being in the age of social media, it was all documented.
That’s why I have decided to talk about the Fyre Festival. Because recently, not one, but two new documentaries have come out about this event and the build up to it. And just like Deep Impact and Armageddon, they came out at roughly the same time and have fought for the attention of all media consumers. And…they were released on competing platforms. On Hulu, you had “Fyre Fraud” and on Netflix you got “Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened”
So which one should you watch? I’d have to say…both of them. Because you can’t get the whole context of went down unless you hear it from almost every side.
With the Hulu documentary, you hear from the man himself, Billy McFarland the creator and genius behind all things Fyre. You get to hear his version of things, as well as all the people he surrounded himself with who either helped him or didn’t help him with his vision. The biggest complaint I have about this documentary is how they were literally too lazy to get someone to read out some of the stories from people involved that they instead used someone who sounds like Siri or Alexa to read the dialogue. If you’re someone like me who takes into account all random things, it does get quite jarring after a while. Also, as a friend of mine pointed out, Billy was paid by Hulu to appear in this documentary, which seems like a crime based on the fact that he has been arrested for fraud.
On the Netflix side, you hear from Jerry Media, the agency hired to market the festival. They’re also known as Fuck Jerry, an instagram account with 14 million followers all based on memes. They interview other people involved with the festival including the two viral stars of both documentaries: Maryann a restaurateur in the Bahamas who was shafted on her payment and had a GoFund Me page created for her, and Andy King, a producer of the festival who was asked to possibly perform fellatio in order to get some goods delivered. Yup.
The biggest differences to me were of course hearing from Billy himself, and also the amount of detail included in both docs. Whereas the Netflix doc has the more viral moments, you’re only hearing it from the side of the media company that created the event and wanted to make themselves look like they had done no wrong. On the Hulu doc, you get the lies straight from Billy’s mouth. And the one question that everybody keeps asking is:
Where is Ja Rule in all of this?
As the co creator of the festival, there is lots of footage of him hyping up the event. This event and the app that they were to piggy back off the event was the thing that would bring him back to the limelight after years of irrelevance. And then, he disappears when the shit storm appears and only comes back to see if he can recoup.
It’s an interesting thing to see Rome burn, and in this case, to see privilege go down in flames. You almost end up feeling sorry for some of the participants until you don’t. No matter what happened, it’s just great to see two sides to the same story. It’s clear that everyone blames the same things for the failures, but to see them from competing sides really makes you believe in the power of social media.
Speaking of which, as an aside to this story, the owners of Fuck Jerry tried to play the victims on what happened and it ended up biting them in the butt. Comedians felt no sympathy for them, because Fuck Jerry itself was created on a history of taking intellectual properties and curtailing if for their own use without proper consent or acknowledgment from the original creators. Their site and accounts have been boycotted by some very popular accounts on social media, and they have taken a beating regarding the way they do business.
The Fyre Festival was a spectacular failure that will live in infamy for the braggadocious way their founders and planners went about trying to execute it. So if you ever want to hear the story on how all of this went down, I recommend watching both documentaries and seeing for yourself just how far fame and infamy can fall.
“Fyre Fraud” is now available for streaming on Hulu.
“Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” is available for streaming on Netflix.
Here’s the trailer for Fyre Fraud, on Hulu.
And the Trailer for Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened.