We’ve all seen fraud stories before, but few are as massive, quick and public as Fyre Festival. In the spring of 2017, you had to live in a cave not to hear about the Fyre Festival disaster. Even if you hadn’t heard about the event beforehand with its tactical social media marketing, then you definitely heard about how it ended. It’s the story of how music artist Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland created the biggest entertainment fail in modern history.
Although the Fire Festival debacle happened nearly two years ago, it’s back in the popular eye in a big way. Two new documentaries reveal the story behind how the chaos of the festival managed to get to such catastrophic levels. The buzz around the films have brought the story back into the limelight.
Hulu vs Netflix
Not one, but two major media players, Hulu and Netflix came out with competing documentaries at the same time. The Hulu version is called Fire Fraud and the Netflix version is called Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened. Both highlight some significant flaws in our social media culture. While the Netflix version is largely touted as the better produced film, it showcases more of the background around how something like this could get so far. Meanwhile, the Hulu version includes more outside experts, an interview with Billy McFarland (the main man behind the scam) and it focuses on the zeitgeist that created the event.
Both documentaries express the way the social media giants played a major role in the cataclysmic event. Perhaps Fyre Festival would never would have been on anyone’s radar if today’s “influencers” didn’t do just that—influence public opinion. Many people got swept up in the dream of Fyre Festival with nothing more to show for itself than some super models on a beach taking pictures.
It’s clear that the villain, Billy McFarland, is the king pin of the whole operation. However, it’s tough to decide whether or not he is a mastermind sociopath taking advantage of millennial culture for personal profit. Or, if he is just a desperate wannabe who goes to extreme measures to become part of the rich and famous cultural dream he was trying to sell.