Three takeaways from the two Fyre Festival documentaries

The two documentaries about mega-disaster Fyre Festival leave viewers with a lot to think about. Here are three big takeaways we learned while watching.
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Scott McIntyre / The New York Times

It seems like everywhere you look people are talking and writing about the two recently released documentaries about the infamous, disastrous Fyre Festival. Hulu released their documentary, Fyre Fraud, just a few days before Netflix released FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

While each documentary takes a different tone, viewpoint, and approach, they both seek to give more insight into how this mess of a festival came to be and how it all went so wrong. Hulu’s doc is more focused on Billy McFarland, creator the festival, and his long history of being a scammer and fraudster. On the other hand, Netflix’s film takes a broader approach and gives more footage of the festival and the impacts on employees of McFarland as well as the unpaid workers in the Bahamas.

Watching both documentaries is definitely worth it as doing so gives viewers a more complete picture of what went down, and the impacts of the festival on an individual level and a societal one. It’s also been pointed out that both documentaries have their flaws, especially when it comes to production. Fyre Fraud paid McFarland a good chunk of change to be interviewed for the documentary. While FYRE worked with FuckJerry (among others), the same production team that was involved in promotional materials for the actual festival.

There is a lot of information to take in and process in both of these films. And there are a lot of questions to be pondered about social media, influencer culture, and human nature in general.

Here are three of the main takeaways we got from watching these two documentaries.

1: While being gleeful about rich millennials being scammed makes sense, there is a deeper story happening that so many ignored.

One of the most striking and heart-wrenching facts from these documentaries is the fact that dozens of workers in the Bahamas were used to create the festival and then left high and dry without being paid. Many people have especially felt for the plea of Maryann Rolle, the restaurant owner who had to pay her workers $50,00 of her own savings after being screwed over by the Fyre Festival. Luckily, she created a GoFundMe which has been very successful.

Learning about the poor treatment these workers dealt with and the fact most of them haven’t been paid at all was truly eye-opening. When Fyre Festival happened, social media loved seeing all of the rich millennials deal with a couple of bad nights before heading home. Of course, taking their money under fraudulent circumstances wasn’t all right either, but it makes sense why many people found their plight funny. While it might have seemed like the festival was a victimless crime, the documentaries showed us all how untrue that was. These documentaries serve as a reminder to dig a little deeper before celebrating tragedy.

2: The Fyre Festival attendees do not represent millennials

One thing that might be overlooked in all of the discussion about the festival and the documentaries is the way they subtly portray this is a millennial norm. Yes, social media and influencers do play a big impact on our culture now, especially on millennials and those even younger than them. But, the idea that everyone is caught up in this trend is not true. The fact is that the vast majority of millennials are dealing with crippling student loan debt, lower wages, and less hope for the future than the generation of their parents.

Your average millennial isn’t going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a luxury music festival, even if they wanted to. The documentaries could have done a better job of addressing the heaps of privilege that most of the attendees of this festival had to even be able to consider buying a ticket.

3: Rich people probably couldn’t hack the daily lives of your average person.

One striking thing about the FYRE documentary from Netflix was the footage of the actual festival and interviews with some of the attendees. It’s really hard to forget the story of the man who talked about destroying the tents around his so no one else could use them. These people were literally on this island for less than a day when they started looting and trying to keep others from even having a place to sleep. The situation was clearly stressful and frustrating, but it was fascinating and disturbing how quickly they all seemed to turn on each other. There are a lot of people in the world dealing with way worse on a consistent basis, and seeing how the attendees reacted didn’t garner much sympathy for them.

One thing is for sure, we definitely won’t stop thinking about these documentaries anytime soon. You would hope production companies, vendors, influencers and attendees would learn from this debacle, but sadly it’ll probably happen again. And we will be back here watch the next round of documentaries in a few years time.

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