Created by entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre Music Festival was sold to its enthusiastic consumers as a “once in a lifetime” luxury adventure on a private island which was once owned by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The event was set to feature bikini-clad supermodels, instagram influencers and A-List musical performances to rival Coachella. However, when the first guests began to arrive, they soon discovered that all wasn’t quite what it seemed when the luxury treatment they were promised failed to materialise.
Things quickly descended into a Lord of The Flies scenario with every man for himself when the group of revelers were left fighting over a few dozen rain-soaked tents in the middle of a disused industrial port in the Bahamian capital.
In Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, award winning documentarian Chris Smith (Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) offers an extraordinary and brilliantly put together first-hand look into the disastrous failure of Fyre as told by those who, in all good faith, worked tirelessly on the project, and those who paid thousands of dollars for a chance to be part of the fantasy.
When a group of models and influencers, including Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski started sharing photos and instagram stories about an upcoming luxury music festival they were paid to promote in late December 2016, the event went instantly viral with tickets selling-out within days. However nobody could have imagined that what was to come was to be one of the greatest cons in history, and would eventually see one of its creators behind bars and thousands of people out of pocket.
While nobody can be entirely sure if Billy McFarland was knowingly deceitful, either out of malice or incompetence, it’s clear that he tried his best to cover up his failures by refusing to take responsibility for the disaster taking place around him. It also appears that McFarland took advantage of greedy business partner too eager to hop on the “easy money” bandwagon to realise that what they were being sold was a big fat lie.
What Fyre proves once again is that with the recent prominence of influencer culture, it has become increasingly difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not, and that if something looks to be too good to be true, it most certainly is just that. We also learn that behind the big smiles and the pretence of luxury and wealth of expertly edited instagram posts of perfectly toned bodies on sunny beaches, sooner or later things will start to unravel if what you are selling doesn’t really exist in the real world.
Chris Smith does a great job in selling the idea of “don’t believe the hype” without ever blaming those who were tricked by McFarland and his “pie in the sky” project, or rather he leaves it up to us to make our own minds up and indulge in a good dose of guilt- free schadenfreude towards a group of people who, let’s face it, deserved to be taught a valuable lesson.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is available to view on Netflix.