Summary: The greatest, bro-iest music festival that kind of happened..?
Once in a while, a bunch of rich, entitled, and privileged people get taken down a peg or two and have to live for a few days without comforts and their money can’t save them. That Carnival cruise from hell. The people that get wasted at Disney and have to sit in a cell for the rest of the day. College kids without internet during a bad storm. And the Fyre Festival. Almost exactly two years ago, the internet went wild when people of exorbitant wealth spent $10+ grand person on four days of a music festival and were promised a weekend of beachside luxury. Instead, they were served two slices of white bread, a piece of iceberg lettuce, while fighting for pillows and an air mattress. “I WAS PROMISED A VILLA FACING THE SUNSET, TEN FREE COOZIES, MILLER LIGHT, AND SUSHI.” Ah. Catharsis.
Generally, I enjoy reading stories about people who have everything and are stripped down to nothing because the devolving of humans- the lengths they will go to in order to feel some semblance of themselves- is fascinating. I had a great time on Twitter that day. It was solely from the guest’s point of view- the outcome of what we all suspected to be very poor event planning or some sort of genius plan to take all the bros of the world and quarantine them. What happened behind the scenes is just as fascinating- it turns out that it was poor planning from people who were well-intentioned professionals, led by an insecure man-child who billed himself as an entrepreneur- good at talking and throwing money around, but piss poor at managing expectations and resources. I mean, this guy took everything about event planning and did it backwards- ads first, setting the price super high without having any sort of baseline, targeting the extremely upper class, and then planning the event, and then coming face to face with what was actually in the lockbox.
The documentary chronicles everything from everyone who was not in charge, from contractors to bus drivers to catering. We’re introduced to the conception (he saw an island, threw a party, wanted to do a big island party for people with money), planning, firing people who were asking logical questions, the downward spiral before the event, the event itself, and the fallout. Content-wise, yes, the doc is all about the festival, but there is a larger story to be told- the practice of selling people (monetary or faith/fan-wise) on an image and an image alone without context or evidence, making things exclusive, FOMO, and the interest in voyeurism.
Fyre Festival was sold mostly on a few pictures of models having fun on a beach. Sure, there were promises of villas and Blink 182, but it was mostly this allure of “Have a chance to look as beautiful and frolic your little bikini-ed hear out as much as you want” that was the draw for people. Once the filters are stripped away- there’s no context. And in this sense, no management or oversight or leadership. Irony! And literally, everyone had their blinders up when it came to this thing and everything was undersold- the capacity of work, the cost, the interest. Phew.
Despite Billy MacFarland and Ja Rule not being present for most of the doc, save for a few recorded clips, it’s admirable how complete it all feels. It’s told with unexpected transparency- for the most part, all of the consultants and organizers have no illusions about what they had promised people vs. what they were able to deliver vs. what they ended up producing. It’s mostly cringe-worthy, a little shocking, and sometimes hilarious. . And also sad- no employee deserves to be treated like the ones here. Be prepared to shake your head a lot as this roller coaster takes off.