Fighting Fyre with Fyre
Fyre Festival is arguably one of the biggest cultural blunders of 2017, and two years later we are still trying to understand how the “festival of all festivals” became a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of social media. Hulu and Netflix are here to help. With their respective documentaries, Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s FYRE, we get a closer look at what was happening behind the scenes of the failed festival.
Hulu was first to release their documentary, containing an exclusive interview with Fyre Festival creator, and now felon serving a 6 year sentence, Billy McFarland. McFarland’s on-camera interview gives viewers a look at the type of man that could pull off a con that manipulated thousands of people out of millions of dollars. The film chronicles the string of scams that led to the so-called entrepreneurs biggest one yet. Fyre Fraud, however, focuses less on where the festival went wrong and more on a generation centered on social media.
Directors Jenner Furst, a Peabody award recipient, and Julia Willoughby Nason use this film to shed light on the need to curate the perfect life online and the great lengths millennials will go to achieve this status. McFarland’s fraudulent empire, built through Magnises, Fyre Media, and Fyre Festival, all played into this desire for exclusivity and the potential FOMO triggered by the things we see on Instagram.
On the other side, Netflix’s FYRE, produced by FuckJerry—the same media company that promoted Fyre Festival— chronicles the culmination and the devastation of the festival. FYRE uses behind-the-scenes footage from McFarland, his partner Ja Rule, and the teams behind Fyre to tell the story of what was going on when putting together the doomed festival.
The major difference in the two films comes from FYRE’s depiction of the vast impact McFarland had not only on those working with him on the production side but also the aftermath for the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. FYRE lets you hear from locals who were left to deal with the aftermath of the festival, including those who lost their life-savings and others left with massive debt.
So, which of the two is the better movie? That depends on what you are looking for. Fyre Fraud delves deeper into the power of social media influencers and the dangers of a society that lives solely for the purpose of social media status, whereas FYRE provides a better look into the festival’s planning, the nightmarish scene attendees were trapped in, and the wreckage that followed. Each film has their standout moments, Fyre Fraud’s coming when a former FuckJerry employee calls out the Netflix film for hypocrisy and FYRE’s scene featuring a defiant Ja Rule on a conference call yelling, “We didn’t kill anybody! Nobody got hurt!”