My Obsession With The New “Fyre” Documentaries


Welcome back and to my fellow graduating seniors; Congratulations! We are mere months away from receiving a piece of paper that will validate the four, or more, year ride we are all completing together. I hope you all enjoyed your break, I know I sure did. While nothing really memorable happened during it, the extra free time allowed me to get reacquainted with my Netflix account. I spent the majority of my break watching series, movies, and documentaries on Netflix. One documentary, in particular, reeled me in, which seemed fitting as one of the major topics of the documentary was about reeling in suckers, millennials to be exact.

On January 18, Netflix released Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. The VICE studios co-produced documentary of the failure of the 2017 Fyre festival event hosted by “tech entrepreneur” Billy McFarland and rapper “Ja Rule”. Fyre festival set out to be a luxurious music festival primed to be the next Coachella or Burning Man. The guests were promised villas and dining with supermodels but they got leftover Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tents and cheese sandwiches.

The documentary touched on many different topics. The influence of social media and influencers, how easy it is to be a scam artist in the 21st century, millennials and our obsession for social and viral “clout,” and why rapper “50 Cent” constantly clowns on “Ja Rule.” The last one is not really true, but it should be.

After giving 95 minutes of my life to this documentary all I knew is that I needed more. So I watched it again. Then a third time. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion in real time. So I went to, fittingly enough, social media to get my sudden fix for all things Fyre festival.

(The infamous Twitter image that trended and made the Fyre festival a viral meme for 48 hours.)

I would go on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, where the link to my columns are by the way, and tap on the search bar and type #fyrefestival and after

a few minutes of hilariously scrolling at the memes from the documentary and event itself, that is when I saw it. A second documentary.

Hulu released Fyre Fraud on January 14, days before the Netflix one. I even signed up for the 30-day free trial just to be able to watch the documentary. I immediately canceled after signing up. Not getting $7.99 out of me. No sir.

I enjoyed both, but if you want more background on the days leading up to the festival watch the Netflix documentary. Also, you will find the single best scene between both documentaries on the Netflix one. McFarland was in such debt that to release the four 18-wheelers of Evian water, event planner Andy King would have to perform fellatio on the head, pun intended, of customs. King was fully prepared to do so as well! Watch the documentary for yourself to see if he went through with it.

If you want more on Billy McFarland’s life watch the Hulu documentary as they interviewed Billy for the Hulu one. Something satisfying in hearing it come from the horse’s mouth. I also preferred the Hulu documentary over the Netflix one.

I do not know if it the journalism major in me that appreciates the effort put in these documentaries. Interviewing attendees, event planners, influencers, to the scammer Billy McFarland himself that have me obsessed. Seeing rich millennials getting conned out of mommy and daddy’s money and speaking as a millennial I found that in particular even more hilarious. Maybe I want to be a scam artist too. Also, as if I even needed an extra reason to obsess over all this anymore here is a story to make it all come back full circle. At least for myself.

For those of you who have ever read a column of mine, it initially began as a series detailing experiences I have had as a New York City doorman. Most stories were funny and some serious. Almost poetic that the first column that branches away from my building somehow comes back to my building.

The parents of Billy McFarland actually lived in my building! When I began working there in 2016 they were one of the first tenants to move in. Two hard working and

(Smile if you have scammed people out of over a reported 26 million dollars.)

sweet real estate agents. They had a year lease on their unit and chose not to renew when the lease was up. Us doorman found it odd as they loved the staff and it was a great location for them with work and their children.

I remember watching the Netflix documentary first and at one point saying to my girlfriend “Where are this kid’s parents at?” The Hulu documentary, which brought this fascinating revelation to light, quickly answered that question for me. My hands covered my face as I burst out with laughter. The months that followed the Fyre festival disaster also coincided with the McFarland’s departure from my building.

“What a small world,” I said all muffled with my hands seemingly glued to my face at this point. What a small world indeed.

*Spoiler warning ahead for those who have not seen the documentaries and are curious*

Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in federal-state prison for multiple counts of fraud on October 11, 2018. Safe to say McFarland will not be, as the now infamous toast of his and “Ja Rule’s”, “livin’ like a movie star, partyin’ like a rockstar, and f***** like a porn star,” any time soon.