Sometimes reality writes the best and partly most bizarre scripts, far better than any fictional writer could. And the story of 2017’s Fyre Festival definitely belongs into that category. If you haven’t heard about it so far I surely don’t blame you as this is usually not the type of event NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION promotes. A sparkling upper-class festival in the Bahamas, packed with luxury and mediocre mainstream EDM and pop artists (plus Blink 182 which is… well, something entirely different to talk about). So like many others I read about it briefly on Buzzfeed and Pitchfork back then and also heard that it didn’t turn out to be a successful event either. But then again – as I’m not the peer group I didn’t really care. Turns out I should have cared and we all should. Because now there’s a Netflix documentary called Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and it’s a must-watch experience for many rasons.
Leaving all the horror aside (turns out my ‘the festival didn’t turn out to be successful’ assumption was a massive underestimation) it’s just really entertaining. Well, the sort of scary entertaining where you think ‘This can’t be fucking real!’. It’s like the past two years of watching Trump’s presidency. The story of Fyre Festival is one of financial entrepreneur Billy McFarland and his various partners (most famously early 00s has-been rapper Ja Rule), his sparkling company and how they thought they could create their own luxury version of Coachella on an island in the Bahamas. On the road towards the event and during the festival pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I don’t want to unnecessarily spoil the film (plus you can also check numerous reports about what happened on that fateful weekend back in the spring of 2017) but it’s something you watch with a feeling of fascinating horror. It’s the sheer amount of arrogance, ignorance, overestimation, stupidity and greed that makes you want to punch someone in the face. At least McFarland is serving a six-year long prison sentence as you are reading this and is pretty much bankrupt.
Again, I don’t want to spoil the experience but apart from the malicious joy of watching these arrogant business man failing on such a spectacular level there’s a bitter aftertaste that stays in your mouth once the credits of this Fyre Festival documentary roll. The people running this hideous adventure aren’t the only ones to blame it’s also all the countless people who fell for it, all those Social Media influencers who were invited to promote the event, the naive musicians who signed up for something because they got paid the double amount of their usual fee and everyone who’s not questioning the superficial advertisement.
The excitement about Fyre Festival and its failure also questions this society’s weird desire with luxury, materialistic goods and a lifestyle that lifts them upon others.
I think, its one person of Major Lazer who said that this was ‘The real life version of Instagram’ during the film and that sums it up pretty well. Once things really go down south on the festival area it’s fascinating to witness how all those spoiled human advertisement vehicles start to fight for their life, partly rob each other and don’t actually have time to run an Instagram live story. In the end they are all stranded at the airport without food and water and that couldn’t be further away from the promised luxury lifestyle they were longing for.
In the end, not only the workers of Fyre Festival were left without payment (and jobs) but also the people at the Bahamas. There’s one scene were one of the local workers breaks out in tears as she had to spend 50.000 dollars of her own savings to pay some of her employees because she all knew them and has to work with them on a daily basis long after McFarland, Ja Rule & Co. have left the island. Thank god, somebody set up a GoFundMe campaign for her and the workers which is running really well right now. That gives you a certain amount of hope back, something you really need after watching this Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix. If you aren’t the biggest fan of our current economic system this will further fuel your scepticism towards it. It’s a story of late-capitalistic decadence of people who never dare to question their own actions for the sake of their own good. Why do we even need luxury festivals of that level? Why are the kind lads of Disclosure even willing to play this without questioning things? And why are we all striving for that shallow and fake Influencer lifestyle on Instagram? The world got way more important problems right now (and events like Fyre Festival surely don’t help the climate change) and it should really make us question our priorities and our perception of things. And I’m the last person on earth who would fight the old ‘escapism-via-music’ formula in these crazy times but there are far better (and cheaper) ways of doing that. May this little film help us all to further question our ways of media usage and materialistic consumption and hopefully be a lesson for a few people out there.
Fyre is produced by Danny Gabai at Vice Studios along with Chris Smith, Library Films and Mick Purzycki at Jerry Media. It’s streaming right now on Netflix.