I checked my Just Watch app on Tuesday and was totally confused, as Hulu showed a documentary called "Fyre Fraud". I wondered if Netflix had loaned it's doc to Hulu for some reason, or maybe I misunderstood which streaming service would have it... nope, turns out, Hulu undercut Netflix and released their own doc a few days before Netflix could. All's fair in love and docs, I guess (after Netflix bragged on Hulu during the Golden Globes! Shade!)
|Two docs about an event that most people had forgotten about
Influencers like Bella Hadid and hundreds of others posted and promoted, including posting up a simple orange square, then telling people that Fyre Fest was the place to be. In fact, Kendall Jenner was paid $250K just for posting said square.
But the event itself was a complete fiasco of the highest proportions. Nothing was built, no musical acts were there, the infrastructure of the island wasn't stable, there was no food and water, barely any plumbing, and those yachts and cabanas turned out to be wet mattresses inside of FEMA tents that were left from Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds of teens and millennials and up were stranded on this small island with no place to go and no way to get home. And it got ugly fast.
So I saw "Fyre Fraud", the Hulu doc, first. And it is fantastic. Focusing on William McFarland, who was the man behind Fyre Fest, it follows him from his early days as a scam artist up until he was making real money conning people. And it all led to promising 1000s of people that the biggest concert around would take place in the Caribbean, with all the big names and social media influencers you could imagine... and it was both sad and hilarious at the same time, watching the Fyre Fest team shake their heads about the impossible position they were put in.
|This one orange square posted and reposed 1000s of times helped sell out
Fyre Fest, including selling yacht and beach home spaces that didnt exist
So then, Netflix releases it's documentary today (Friday Jan 18), and I'm pretty much pumped as can be for it. Officially titled "FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened", it was actually made in conjunction with Jerry Media. That did send up a red flag to me, as how unbiased can it be if the people in one documentary are helping to tell the story in the other?
Well, the Netflix doc (also fantastic) points it's Spotlight of Blame directly at Billy McFarland and doesn't let up. It jumps right into the Fyre Fest planning, starting 5 months before the festival. Keep in mind that festivals of these size takes a year, maybe 2 years to put together, and that's likely after a plan is already in place.... McFarland thought he could do it in 5 months, and that's as he was shopping for an island to purchase. Yes, this dude thought of the festival first, started promoting it, then went to buy an island for it. (purchasing an island once owned by Pablo Escobar. Yep. That's a true story)
Because you know it's a disaster, you watch with a sense of anticipation, knowing this house of cards that McFarland is trying to build is about to crash, but you just aren't sure exactly when... and it gets worse than you'd think. To the point where one of McFarland's assistants was instructed to go meet with a Bahama official to get a trailer full of bottled water released, and was told to... well, take one for the team and do something pretty unbelievable to get that water. It's mind blowing how many bad decisions, either knowingly or not, were made in this thing.
Both docs give you time frames of "5 months until..." and "6 weeks until...." and "5 days until..." and you just marvel at all the things that aren't done and won't be completed -- and how McFarland just keeps moving forward.
He wasn't featured in the Netflix doc, but his partners were, and they all tell the tale of how promising it sounded but how it quickly became unfathomable that it would happen. Netflix's "Fyre" is much more in depth than Hulu's "Fire Fest", not only in what happened on that island...
(one attendee talked about how when the sun went down, "the camaraderie was over", the looting began, tents on fire and so on. And honestly, I am shocked that neither documentary mentioned anything about sexual assault... either it didn't happen, or they just didn't report that)
...but also what happened legally when it call came crashing down .
(cut to Billy sitting in a massive NYC penthouse, with a small staff, sending out emails to people to sell them VIP passes to things like MET Gala, Victoria's Secret fashion ship, and meet n greets with Taylor Swift... it's important to note that the MET Gala is invite only, Victoria's never has VIP passes and TayTay doesn't do meet n greets.)
|Someone in the Netflix doc makes the point
that it took 100s of models and celebs posting
an orange square to build Fyre Fest, but only
one picture of a cheese sandwich to bring it
all crashing down.
Admittedly, I knew little about it as it led up to the event, because I didn't pay any attention to Bella Hadid or any Jenner or Kardashian or anyone else you could call a Social Media Influencer, so both of these movies really helped tell the story, both in their own way. You could layer them atop one another and you'd get mostly different interviews with much of the same perspective. Hulu has one of the island workers who was trying to spearhead construction, while Netflix talks to one of the local restaurant owners. The owner of the now infamous Twitter account @FyreFraud (his name escapes me) was in both movies, telling the same type of tales.
Both movies also show you the sheer power of social media, and the power of its users... when reports began to leak out about Fyre Fest, including the infamous picture of the cheese on toast, which really solidified everyone's fears and suspicions that Fyre Fest was truly a fraud.
Plus the ugly side of social media comes out when post after post is shown of people reveling in the misery of "rich kids", some of which sold all of their possessions, their cars, quit their jobs and cashing out college funds to come to the Bahamas. As comedian Ron Funches says, "If you had $1000s of dollars to go on a trip to see Blink 182, that's on you. That's Darwinism at it's finest." Indeed.
If I had a preference, I'd pick Netflix's version, only because it is deeper and more in-depth about the festival itself, but I loved how Hulu gave you the backstory on McFarland's previous scams, including the creation of Magnesis, which Netflix barely touches on.
See the both if you can.