• Rose Smith

Tale of Two Documentaries and the Failure of Fyre Festival

Photo Source: Medium

In this day and age, with the amount of readily available information, we like to think that we’re at the near pinnacle of intellect and cleverness—it’s would be hard to pull one over on you if the truth is one google search away. However, it seems that scams and frauds only really seem to adapt to the changing times and technological availability. One of the biggest frauds of the decade was that of the Fyre Festival, a completely failed music festival that was doomed from the start. In the aftermath, two documentaries were made available on two different streaming services: Fyre Fraud on Hulu and FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened on Netflix. Seeing both of them serves as a fascinating story of how one story can be told two different ways.

To start, what was the Fyre Festival, and why does it live in infamy? The Fyre Festival was supposed to be a giant luxury musical festival and party in the Bahamas. Tickets were extremely expensive and promised access to the top musicians of the day (including the likes of Major Lazer and Blink-182) along with villas and fancy food. Many social media influencers helped promote and market the event through their social media platforms, feeding into the intense sense of the fear of missing out if you weren’t there. In the meantime, however, the festival preparations were started way too late, and there was no way that they would have the infrastructure or time to be able to produce any of what they promised to guests, and instead of simply refunding the tickets and cancelling the festival, they pressed on forward. By the time the tourists got there, it was an absolute mess. The ‘villas’ were actually just disaster relief tents, there was no organization, no amenities, and all of the music groups backed out before the start of the festival. At the center of it was Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre and accused of swindling everyone, including his own employees, out of thousands of dollars and still not producing a festival that was remotely passable.

Both the Hulu and Netflix one agree that Billy McFarland is the biggest source of blame when it comes to the Fyre Festival. Both characterize him as a fraud and a charlatan. However, the documentaries tend to differ a little when it comes to the distribution of blame and storytelling. Fyre Fraud, the Hulu documentary tends to place the blame mostly on Billy McFarland, but it also touches upon the complacency of the marketing team and influencers who blew it up in the first place. If the marketing team and instagram celebrities hadn’t promoted the event so well, so many people wouldn’t have been screwed over. The documentary also touched upon how millennial culture could have fostered a scam like this with social media and the fear of missing out on an experience. The feature also touches on some of Billy’s other ventures to provide more context and implies that this wasn’t the first time nor is it probably the last that Billy McFarland will pull something like this. The Netflix documentary tends to put the blame nearly wholly on Billy McFarland and focuses mostly on what happened. The movie defends the marketing team (which makes sense, as the marketing team for the Netflix Fyre movie co-produced the documentary with VICE media). It maintained that Billy had been deceiving everyone. The movie does not take as much time to make a statement regarding how we could have gotten there, but it does do a stellar job of telling the story of the disaster of Fyre up to the catastrophic festival.

If you can get a chance to see both documentaries, definitely do so. They are both extremely engaging and provides a great chance to see the story of Fyre festival in two different perspectives. While I think that the Netflix documentary does a better job of providing the whole story of production, I personally thought that the Hulu documentary tells a better narrative by addressing all the different factors that lead to the festival’s failure. However, the friend I watched it with actually enjoyed the Netflix documentary a bit more. If you can, definitely try to watch both of them and come into your own conclusions. Either of these movies are going to be like watching a wild beach-bound train wreck, and you’ll love every second of it.

Hulu Documentary Trailer:

Netflix Documentary Trailer:

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.