Fyre Fraud v Fyre
FOMO: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
I’m quite jealous that I’ve never felt this level of anxiety toward almost anything in my life. I didn’t feel this way scoring my first paid acting role, shooting my first feature film, getting married to my incredible wife, or even during the birth of my daughter. All these big possible events never filled me up with questions asked of myself; can this be bigger? Who’s going to see me? How will this define me juxtaposed to my peers?
There’s a central theme explored with these 2 documentaries about identity. I consider myself to be an individual that exists on the older end of the Millennial spectrum. Since the terms inception I’ve kind of rejected being identified as a one. There’s been so many negative connotations associated with the word that I just whole hearted don’t vibe with. However, from what I’ve researched there’s no definite answer to what the date ranges for millennials are, but there seems to be a common consensus of a span of 20 years from 1981-2001.
Millennials are often at odds with one another between the sub groups of Gen Y (1981-1991) and Gen Z (1991-2001) with the primary difference between the two being technology. Generation Y grew-up on personal computers, cell phones, and video game systems, while Generation Z has grown up on tablets, smartphones, and apps. Yet, the common ground between both generations is that both have been transforming and altering communication and identity.
So yeah, you know I may not be a fully self-absorbed, anxious, pretty maniac; but I am proud to be called a Millennial.
The Fyre Festival was to be the most epic and lavish musical event of the decade that would marry music, pop culture, and excess in an extraordinary new way. What if Instagram came to life? What if you really became your own hashtags for the world to see on the grandest of stages?
Oh, the life!
What if the creators of this event propped you up to make your dreams come true, only to have it be an apparent nightmare that would make you doubt yourself and out tens of thousands of dollars?
Oh… … … FML!
In Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud” the co-directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason set out to engage in a broader conversation of identity and how being a Millennial shape not only the way we relate to each other but how that makes us a target by corporate entities salacious marketing practices. It was a worthy attempt that missed the mark. The doc begins to further unravel the complexities to building this great idea and dive deep into the failing of Billie McFarland, the Fyre Co-Founder and Ja Rule Co-Founder and front man alongside a host of individuals that were enabling the 2 to deliver the most beautiful disaster imaginable.
A Documentary succeeds in how it analyzes, and how effective it is at getting its message across. This film is very informative and provides a deeper look into Billie McFarland’s formative years and how that propelled him to the platform he would have to propose in my opinion a truly bold and opportunistic endeavor. However, the documentary should also consider how fair the work is to its subject matter.
Unlike Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened,” McFarland himself is on camera being interviewed and have his answers to fair questions sprinkled throughout the film. It still amazes me at how little Ja Rule seems to be suffering from the backlash of the release of these films and is currently fronting a similar app platform with festival potential too. I’ll save that diatribe for my video review! Unfortunately, and rather unfairly I believe the editing of this doc and especially the interviews produce an inauthentic portrayal of Billie as more than just a conman but a dis-associated sociopath. There were images repeated throughout the film depicting Billie manically staring down or off after answering questions looking not only more devilish but unlikeable.
Having seen both documentaries I’m more in favor of “Fyre” as I was able to gain and agree with a more honest presentation of Billie that lines up to those he worked with as being overly likeable. He was a charismatic, won’t take no for an answer kind of guy that had a solution for every problem. Not that every solution was correct or even possible, but he never left people with the impression that he was out of leverage or operating from a place of discomfort. He wouldn’t have been able to get so far in life if he was indeed the person portrayed in “Fyre Fraud”.
Also, the Netflix doc was more entertaining. We spent a little less time on Billie and more time on the creation of the festival and how it was shaping up poorer and poorer as the weeks went by. Told from a stronger narrative structure and staying further away from traditional documentary machinations I felt was a stronger display of being able to connect with the target audience. Interestingly, the producers of this film are made up of some of the same team who were hired and worked the principal marketing and production for the Fyre Festival Campaign. They obviously have a better pulse of what’s attractive to the viewers and even after the debacle for the failed festival, were able to keep their heads of above water and release this film sort of in response to “Frye Fraud” which implicated them to some extent as responsible for the way things ended. The poster flashed all throughout Netflix marketing platforms and are enticing and engaging, that even though the Hulu doc debuted first, “Fyre” was my go to watch. If that doesn’t show the power of social media right there I don’t know what would.
Both films do a good job at exploring how Influencers and Influencer Marketing made this possible. Influencer Marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around them. Both films attempted to tackle and ask questions on how and why we have allowed this to happen? Both however failed to dig deeper in answering the question and focused more on Billie after the festival and the scam that was up next.
At that point and rightfully, so both docs exposed Billie for being a privileged opportunist who was living out his own fantasies propped up by the enablement of money and status and doomed by constantly having to rob Peter just to pay Paul. All that glitters really aren’t gold and while not complete; the conversation was started. We now have a discussion before us about how much social media and the way we communicate with one another will be used to work against us rather than for us. So, we can prevent another Fyre Festival from ever happening again and open our eyes a little bit to the power we give to other people over our own lives.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- FYRE FRAUD: 7/10
Directors: Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason/
Writers: Lana Barkin Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason, Jed Lipinski
Starring: Ja Rule, Billie McFarland
Run Time: 96 mins
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- FYRE: 8/10
Director: Chris Smith
Starring: Ja Rule, Billie McFarland
Run Time: 97 mins