You know the earmarks of some of the best documentaries; they either have a great plot twist or an insane revelation; devastating developments and brutal human truths unfold. They are human drama at it’s finest.
But in FYRE all these moments don’t seem intermittent, they feel damn near constant.
Can someone please pick my jaw up off the floor?
FYRE: the Greatest Party That Never Happened now streaming on Netflix (and directed by Milwaukee’s Chris Smith) is a horrific ride into one plot twist after another, one devastating development that keeps outdoing itself. The drama keeps piling up until the whole thing inevitably explodes. You can’t help but watch, the interviews are compelling, the footage is damning. And who doesn’t salivate at the thought of seeing an internet “influencer” (quotes intentional) inconvenienced on an epic scale?
If you are not familiar with the FYRE festival, it was the brainchild of entrepreneur, um, sociopath and scammer Billy McFarland, who is now serving jail time for defrauding hundreds of people, promising the experience of a lifetime and giving them, well, let’s just say much much less than that. If you’re an event planner of any ilk you’re likely to let out a blood curdling scream while watching this. Heck, you’re going to let out a blood curdling scream even if you’re not. It’s that certifiably nuts.
I mean, there are people who are accused of putting the cart before the horse, but McFarland has 20 carts full of ridiculous ideas before anyone gets even a glimpse of a horse.
But hey, he got to party with a few supermodels and Instagram influencers, so there’s that.
In fact, the festival was famously promoted by supermodels (who predictably backtracked their endorsement) via social media. They appeared in a promotional video that’s like a hybrid between a trailer for the SI swimsuit issue and a Cinemax Friday After Dark movie. The fest promised luxury villas at a premium price on an exclusive island and a concert headlined by Major Lazer and including Blink 182 (Blink 182?!). It promoted itself as exclusive. McFarland preyed on our youth culture’s thirst for celebrity and the attainment of an elite lifestyle — and it’s all lies. And honestly I’m simplifying the story ridiculously.
Hell, people are so sucked in by the thought of being able to say they were part of some supermodel/influencer/elite/island concert-going experience they were enticed by social media posts that were nothing more than an orange square. Seriously, an orange square. And the insane irony of it all is all the followers the influencers brought to the party could not overcome one post by a fest goer with about 400 followers who posted a picture of the food that was being served, that looked like what could constitute as prison food. That post went viral and the backlash was swift.
But hey, enjoy it, I don’t want to give it all away. You witness the missteps, the terrible decisions, and the irrational behavior of McFarland who even when all was lost was not going to take no for an answer. And his staff continued to follow him into the abyss.
Hey if you’re going to cringe for an hour and a half this is the way to do it.
Featured image courtesy of Netflix.