Recently Netflix premiered their highly anticipated documentary that explored the chaotic disorder which unfolded over what had originally planned to be a three day luxury weekend with private yachts, martinis, and Instagram’s biggest celebrities, but quickly turned into an apocalyptic lord of the flies survival weekend. Yes, it’s Fyre festival.
After putting festival goers in thousands of pounds in debt and putting the weight of possible jail time on its organiser Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival scam does shed light on even darker issue of how easy the internet has made it to manipulate the general public and even industry professionals on a widespread and extremely costly level.
The documentary follows perhaps 2018’s biggest scam from the very beginning, establishing that the festival had originally been organized to celebrate the celebrity bookings app ‘Fyre’ set up by business entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. In celebration of their business adventure ‘Fyre Festival’ was born, promising luxury private villas, gourmet dining and a stunning beach with goddess Instagram models just floating around for an expensive price-tag. Reality struck when unknowing event goers landed in the Bahamas to a half-built campsite, barely sustainable food options and no beach, which eventually led to pure chaos.
— Rain Man (@omgRainMan) April 28, 2017
— Lamaan (@LamaanElGallal) April 28, 2017
Throughout the whole watching experience I continued to ask myself “but how could they get away with it? Surely someone working with them would have got suspicious?” Yet to his credit, McFarland hired an impeccable social media team and organized ad campaigns built on the already unattainable universe of Instagram where only Victoria secret models and stunning beach holidays exist and everything’s in a rose-colored filter. By using social media stars like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid to endorse their brand with a simple orange filter post sending them into an overnight success, it does say something about the mindlessness to online fame. If anyone can peak at popularity with little truth to their talents, the beauty of festivals themselves and in general putting any effort or authenticity into your life is completely voided. Not only does this set unrealistic standards that don’t even exist because they’ve been fabricated from a lie but it screwers our perception on what we should expect and deliver.
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Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the islands of Exuma. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we must postpone this experience. We are working tirelessly to ensure each guest leaves the island safely and ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation as we continue to provide ongoing updates via email and our official social media channels as they become available, including refund information.
With the industry becoming harder to break into by the day, smaller talents rely on DIY festivals and locally organized events to push their careers further. Fyre Festival reached at the underbelly of the festival/concert community and clawed at our vulnerability. How are people to trust locally organized or even wide scale events if something like this could happen? And would they even be foolish if they didn’t? as mentioned almost anything can be fabricated at this point so is it completely nonsensical for people to pass on festivals with the worry that they’re spending millions of pounds on something that physically never existed. Festivals act as a sanctity for many, offering them a community of random strangers who understand them a lot better than their own family might, so hoarding the fear that their safe haven could only be a mirage hits hard on festival organizers trying to establish themselves into bigger businesses and for festival goers just trying to have a good time.
This isn’t even the first instance of the music industry being hit by completely fabricated lies that have come at a cost. Late last year Discovered Magazine reported on the threat of Threatin, actually called Jered Eames, a musician who bought fake views on his music and flat-out lied to promotors in an attempt to convince well-established music venues to book him promising crowds of 300-400 people. But when no one showed up, venues who’d paid for staff and support bands who’d spent money traveling to venues were all left scratching their heads. Even his tour band had no idea what was going on until it was revealed to all be an internet hoax. Speaking to the BBC Jered said “What is Fake News? I turned an empty room into an international headline. If you are reading this, you are part of the illusion” and continued “There is no villain character anymore in rock music, or really in all music. I’m trying to vilify myself.”
But where does this leave us if we as a society are victims to our own demise? Well, it isn’t all too glum because in fairness McFarland has a reputation for scamming people and Threatin has been branded by the online community as simply “hungry for attention”, but this issue should make us reconsider how we consume content online. If we can be fooled by a simple Instagram post of an orange square then we need to dig deeper. I just hope that when society evolves we learn to live alongside the digital world and not live for the digital world.