Like many, I had seen quite a few postings and tweets on social media about the documentaries on the Fyre Festival. I’d bookmarked them on the ever-lengthening “watch” list in my head. On Tuesday, I went to dinner with my friend Lori, who insisted I should watch them. Yesterday was my movie watching day, and the documentary did not disappoint.
In a world that is paper thin
The Fyre Festival was a luxury weekend promoted as an amazing opportunity for wealthy young millennials. It would take place on a private island in the Bahamas for three days. Let’s face it – that sounds fabulous. The festival contracted top bands like Blink182 to perform and promised a full line-up. Some dished out as much as $12,000 just for general admission tickets. Many others wanted full-VIP treatment with private villas, and other exclusives, and paid accordingly.
The branding for the festival was slick, glossy, and fabricated. Supermodels gathered together with festival organizers for a weekend on what was supposedly once Pablo Escobar’s (think Medellin Cartel) island, named Norman Cay. Film footage from that weekend was put together as a montage used for marketing. Festival organizers paid social media influencers such as Kendall Jenner to post a burnt orange color square on instagram. Social media worked it’s magic, and news of the festival went viral. An air of exclusivity wafted over millennials, and the festival took off.
It’s nothing to be glad about
Unfortunately for all involved, the luxurious weekend of music, sun and fun is not what unfolded (and I’m leaving a lot of the details out due to space). Guests flew in, not by private charter to a private island, but by commercial jet to an airstrip. Buses shuttled them to an area of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, where a housing community was being planned. As they drove up, they saw that their luxurious accommodations were leftover FEMA tents. Leftover tents used to house Americans who had lost their homes after natural disasters, like hurricanes or fires.
Dinner consisted of some sad looking cheese between slices of bread and a salad. Not sushi. Not lobsters. No champagne. There was very little water, and definitely no full-bars. The island area itself had very little infrastructure. There were no white-tilted, clean bathrooms. A sea of porta-potties awaited use, but not nearly enough to accommodate. The tent city was completely occupied by dusk. They still had 2/3 of their guests due to arrive the following day!
The final outcome for the festival is not what fascinates me most about Fyre. It isn’t that the young entrepreneur – Mike McFarland – is nothing more than a con artist, or that many others behind the scenes knew that there was no way this festival was going to happen and yet stuck with it until the very end. My fascination comes down to the realization that a similar disaster to Fyre could, and likely will happen again. We are begging for it.
It’s all on sale for dirty cash
I can’t speak for other countries, but Americans seek luxury. We desire VIP treatment. Many are willing to pay monumental sums of money to get it. Most of all, we want that exclusivity. Nearly every adult of gen-x age or older I know openly scoffs at the idea of social media influencers. In turn, ask most any millennial and they will immediately and excitedly explain why they work. The Kardashians didn’t just suddenly fall into a money pit. They made themselves relevant. While maybe you or I don’t care, PLENTY of others do. The Kardashians and many other “influencers” are followed by the millions on any social media platform. Their followers will do almost anything to experience even a small bit of what influencers do on any given day.
48 hours after Kendall Jenner’s $250,000 instagram post, (amount wired to her by festival organizers for that post) the Fyre Festival had sold 95% of their tickets. Coincidence or example of her influence? You decide.
The total human race became a basket case
All one has to do in order to see the possibility of something similar to Fyre happening again, is ask a simple question. If you had the financial means to go see Duran Duran in an exclusive setting and be in VIP accommodations – would you go?
If you haven’t checked out the documentaries on either Netflix or Hulu, I highly recommend them. Have a paper bag handy, because you might either gag, or hyperventilate from anxiety like I did!
(I just wanted to quickly mention that Duran Duran wrote “Paper Gods” prior to 2015….yet here we are. The lyrics lent themselves SO well I had a hard time choosing what to use!)