Netflix's Fyre: Inside the great Instagram scam of the 21st century
Remember when the biggest Instagram models in the world took to their accounts and posted pictures of a Bahamian paradise with clear blue skies, pink sand and the invitation to join th most 'lit' music festival ever? Yeah, well, that was a complete scam.
A new Netflix documentary showcases all that went wrong with the Fyre Festival in the Instagram-addicted world of today.
Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski to name a few, built anticipation for the ill-fated festival that basically turned into what the Netflix documentary termed "a tsunami of Schadenfreude".
At the centre of this controversy is New York entrepreneur Billy McFarland, who is now serving six years in federal prison for fraud.
In the documentary, the mastermind behind Fyre who avidly states to his employees: "We're selling a pipe dream to your average loser." Or, as Esquire UK puts it: "McFarland is the perfect millennial villain, a remorseless narcissist on a hover-board who promises you the world then worries about it, well, never."
And therein lies the problem. In this Instagram-obessed world where everyone is trying to one up the other with their beach vacation or ski trips to the Pyrenees or their exotic vacation to so and so land, and in this constant cycle to 'live our best lives ever', Fyre shows us how easy it is to be duped by social media.
Fyre saw millennials spend thousands of dollars to buy tickets to the 'most exclusive music festival in history' that offered luxury packages and stays in a luxury tent to flying in on a private VIP Boeing 737, gourmet food and saw the organisers spending $175,000 to get the containers of Evian water for their guests.
One festival goer spent about $13,000 on luxury VIP packages for the festival that included exclusive artist passes and a “residence consisting of four rooms and a living area,” located on a private island.
The festival was such a disaster that scenes from the documentary show attendees being forced to stay in leftover tents from Hurricane Matthew that were sold as 'luxury yurts' and guests trying to escape from being locked up in an airport overnight without any food or water.
But aside from the easily influenced millennials, the festival and McFarland left a long-term impact on thousands of Bahamians who were duped to work for them — some who worked 12-13 hours a day to build the festival site and cook food - out of their rightful dues.
The caterer Maryann Rolle, for example, was never paid and claims in the documentary that she had to use $50,000 of her own savings to cover the costs of catering.
However, the extent of the scam is truly captured on the film when having run out of money, McFarland comes up with a cashless payment festival wristband and sends emails out asking ticket holders to top them.
The film also alleges that Kendall Jenner received $250,000 for one Instagram post about the festival and within 48 hours, Fyre had sold 95% of the 6,000 allotted tickets. If there's one takeaway from this it should be to take everything on Instagram with a pinch of salt and to stop being so gullible. The real question, we're left pondering, is what led to the insane demand for the festival in the first place?
Fyre debuted on Netflix on January 18.