OPINION: Fyre Festival: What we are willing to sacrifice

Posted on Feb 7 2019 - 5:50am by Suad Patton-Bey

The Fyre Festival will probably be recorded as the greatest party to be planned. The promise of supermodels, concerts and exclusive access duped thousands of millennials, leaving them stranded and starving in the Bahamas.

“Fyre Festival: The Greatest Party that Never Happened,” premiered on Netflix in January, three days after Hulu released its documentary, “Fyre Fraud.”  The two films are very different, considering they take different angles on different stories that inevitably lead to the same disaster. Since I have only watched Netflix’s film, that is exactly what I will be critiquing.

The Netflix film is composed of mainly interviews that provide interesting back-stories and perspectives.

Gabrielle Bluestone, a Vice journalist, takes viewers back to where it all started for many of the victims: when and how she found out about the Fyre Festival — on social media, of course.

She, along with other influencers, retell the claims and promises of exclusivity and luxury that were made in the Fyre Festival promotional videos that lured people in. We see behind-the-scenes footage of the festival’s founders; Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, along with their groupies.

Their criminal activity aside, I couldn’t help but notice the very interesting bromance between rapper Ja Rule and McFarland, a white, upper-middle class tech entrepreneur. Who would have thought that these two would join forces and pull off the hoax of our generation?

The producers do a good job of providing an appropriate chronology to present the story without boring or confusing the viewer. The film explains the origins of Fyre Media, the company behind the festival, with a diverse range of interviewees. We get to hear from various bookers, planners, videographers and others regarding the roles that they played in this fiasco and when they began to see red flags or suspect that all may not have been what it seemed.

The hardest part for me to watch was the effects this sham had on the Exuma natives who were employed for Fyre Festival. Many workers went unpaid, and the testimony of MaryAnn Rolle, with her tears and loss, is enough to make anyone angry. Because of McFarland and Ja Rule, Rolle had to use $50,000 of her own money to pay her workers. Luckily, she has set up a GoFundMe account and has since received $200,000 in donations.

As of now, McFarland is currently serving a six-year prison sentence.

However, the co-founders of Fyre are not the only ones facing legal repercussions for this unfortunate event.

A big part of why the promotions were so successful were the appearances of many world-class supermodels such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, who have been been subpoenaed to answer questions about their involvement in promoting this festival.

Even after watching the film and doing further research about Fyre Festival, I still cannot bring myself to comprehend how someone could manipulate thousands of people, leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere and not look back. Or worse, how so many bright, intelligent people could be fooled by images they saw on their screens.

The Fyre Festival exposed the vulnerability and weaknesses of humans, especially us social media-savvy millennials, and what we are willing to give just to feel special, unique and important. Even if it’s just for a couple of days. Or just for the selfies.

Suad Patton-Bey is a senior journalism and Arabic minor from Oxford.