Everyone knew something about Fyre Festival. Either you knew about it before or, like most of the world, you found out during the event – whichever it was, you knew it was bad. Netflix’s recently released documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened tackles the mountainous pile of simple but baffling questions (How? What? Who? How again?) surrounding the failed festival and crystalises the colossal disaster for hungry eyes. The movie pulls back the curtain and transforms the unthinkable mess into something slightly more understandable. It’s an entertaining shipwreck to be devoured with unyielding fascination.
Using a structure that strikes a similar chord to The Hangover, the feature backtracks in the wake of the titular gathering, asking how an event which promised no less than A-list celebrities frolicking on white sand beaches could fail so miserably. It’s an intensely absorbing documentary that satisfies the appetites of its audience while raising questions about the cult of the celebrity, the desire to be on the inside and the influencer generation’s susceptibility to scams.
At the centre of the wreck is Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media and a tragic hero drawn from the classics. Convinced of his own greatness and compelled by his tunnel vision to make the greatest festival ever, he relentlessly ignores the hoards of people telling him to stop. The excuse everyone around him seems to use for their continued participation in the project is their uncertainty as to whether Billy is the genius of the decade, or just completely full of it. As the businessman haemorrhages money, the film holds a light on the scope of the privileged. Far from a noble captain, at the helm of his sinking ship Billy drowns everyone with him. Admittedly though, the feature merely presents one of many millionaires who have stood on the backs of their own trusting workers and been given chance after chance in the name of entrepreneurial spirit. Perhaps more importantly, the documentary questions culpability. There are clear victims but an invitation is extended for the viewer to discern who else should be held accountable.
As expected, Fyre didn’t tumble due to one unlucky misstep, but instead due to the refusal of organisers (and ticket holders) to accept red flag after red flag. It’s hard to find the right adjectives to describe one’s disbelief when watching how far so much money, so much influence and so much self-worth can get you – until you’re left stranded in the Bahamas with limited Evian supplies.
Fyre is released on Netflix on 18th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for Fyre here: