Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Doc Watch: Fyre Fraud (2019) - the other "Fyre Festival Fiasco" post mortem doc

Watched:  01/22/2019
Format:  Hulu streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

This post will make no sense unless you go back and read my post from yesterday on Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019) , the other documentary about this same subject that was released on Netflix earlier this month.  So, please do go and read it, because I'd prefer not to rehash a lot of what was covered in that post.

After my initial post and exasperation with the Netflix doc and spending most of the post leveling suspicion at the motives of the doc makers, Paul dropped a note to me saying "hey, I think people who are involved with Fyre Fest were involved in producing that doc", which... indeed they were.  Which confirmed all my worst suspicions and made me hate everyone involved even more, but at least made me feel less paranoid and crazy.

That said, it's infuriating to know Vice - the dude-bro "journalism" outfit, was willing to chuck whatever integrity they had and saw no conflict of interest in getting into bed with some of the shadiest dealers in the entire saga.  I literally can't begin to guess how they didn't see this entaglement as compromising and deeply problematic.

Fyre Fraud (2019) is a second doc, produced by Hulu, I guess, with involvement from many of the same talking heads.  This doc, however, while nowhere near as slick (it's not Vice + Fuck Jerry* produced, after all) is much, much more so the doc I expected to see on Netflix.  They actually bother to look into who Billy McFarland is, what else he's done, and - arguably - better demonstrate the legal entanglements everyone is now wrestling.

There actually is new information in this second doc, some timeline stuff is clarified, a bit more about what - exactly - Billy's dumb credit card scheme was, etc... And there's a whole bit about a mentor/ angel investor who may or may not have killed himself or been killed when he ran into trouble with the law himself.

Further, they outline a whole bunch of screw ups that weren't minor that were news in this doc.  Failure to pay customs didn't just wind up in the infamous story from the other doc - it means they just didn't have a lot of stuff they could or should have had that was sitting in holding.

Really, man, these guys needed a Gantt chart more than any people I've ever seen in my life.

This doc also sort of suggest: yeah, people likely would have died if the festival HAD gone off.  They built those tents along a 20 foot drop-off into ocean water with no way back up and had stocked up on $2 million in booze.  All of these are true facts.  I'm not making this shit up.

I don't even want to get into the post-facto shenanigans and what may or may not have happened.

What this doc also does is at least pause to explain how influencers work and at least raise a few questions about what, exactly people were thinking and why - and how people of my generation may genuinely not get the scope of how lemming-like and easily, genuinely influenced the target audience for Fyre Fest really is.  Which is baffling (to me).  I mean, I've commented even to my Millennial colleagues how they aren't cynical or skeptical of being advertised to - that they seem to *like* it.  If I saw 400 "influencers" all suddenly plugging a music fest I'd never heard of, I'd assume "well, they are paid to say this, so... whatever" and move on.  It's no different from - even if it's Elvira sitting with Jack Kirby, Sally Ride, David Byrne and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar telling me Pepsi is the taste of a new generation, I'm still not buying any dang ol' Pepsi (admittedly, I will have some questions...).  I sure as shit don't understand how Kim "I'm Famous Because I Had a Sex Tape" Kardashian's little sister is worth $250K per tweet or whatever she earns.

Real talk:

Kids...  I mean, really, if you follow what's-her-name Jenner, you can do better and make your own decisions.  I believe in you.

It's super gross hearing people who KNOW this is dumb talking about it but still sorta defending it - and it's just something I don't understand.  I can't.  I can't imagine quitting my job, selling my things and going into debt I can't pay off to fly to the Bahamas for a music festival because I am afraid I might miss something.

Speaking of music fests - it's really weird to hear Millennials talk about music festivals as if they naturally should be big brand-heavy corporate events.  Look, I was at the first Lalapalooza tour - and aside from the fact they sold soda at the concession stand and the Dallas Starplex probably had a sponsor's name on it, that was about it.  It was not Ice-T and Body Count sponsored by T-Mobile or whatever.  And they hung on pretty well with that for a few years, anyway (it gets hazy after the first 2 or 3 I went to).  And Burning Man, which they keep referring to, was originally as anti-corporate as you can fathom.  Just... Google some of this stuff, you dopes.

Amazingly, the guy the other doc spends the entire film setting up as the sole conspirator in the shenanigans, Billy McFarlane, sits for an interview.  I believe he was paid for this conversation, and it's interesting to see him unable to control the narrative... he's a scared kid in the principal's office, biting his lip, mostly so scared he can't talk, occasionally bursting out with defiant challenges (they go nowhere and the producers aren't wrong).  But Billy also shares some background, and how f'ed up and warped he's been, and how he's been rewarded his entire life, free of consequence, for scams large and small, just make him seem like... the world's shittiest guy, honestly.  I don't say this lightly - this guy would kill you with a baseball bat if he could make $100,000 doing so.  And he'd forget he did it within the hour.

He's not mean, he's not one of those guys who wants to hurt people.  He's probably a psychopath in the clinical sense, he's just one that doesn't quite get how "rules" work or that actions have consequences.

Anyway - this doc itself wants to play on the side of stifled laughter schadenfreude, which... yeah.  I get it.  It's why we all tuned in.  But as a second part to the Netflix doc, when you have all that information?  It's just not funny.  You wish they spent more time talking about the impact on the locals (they do, honestly, get into it, just not at a personal level).  You wish they nailed Fuck Jerry a bit more to the wall - but I suspect social media can take care of that in the next week or so.

And, I still don't think the producers of this doc understood WHY people were making fun of the Fyre attendees and staff.  Or, at least, they let the "they're just mean" vibe take over, still not pinning any responsibility on anyone for their actions or... honestly, their f'ed up value system.

I don't know when everyone decided they get to live like a commercial or magazine ad, but.... man.  How is it not at least a little funny?

I dunno.

I do hope someone out there makes the connection and realized "maybe the name 'influencer' is reason enough to not follow someone.  Maybe I shouldn't just do what the lady on my phone tells me to do."

*that IS the name of the boutique social media company.  Don't be mad at me for their dumb name.

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