Within days of one another, both Hulu and Netflix released documentaries that covered the 2017 infamous Fyre Festival disaster that scammed thousands of attendees, staff members and investors. Eventually, it resulted in a $100 million dollar lawsuit against festival founder and con artist, Billy McFarland.
Long story short: self-proclaimed entrepreneur, Billy McFarland—with the help of confused Fyre Media employees, Jerry Media strategists, event planners, numerous supermodels, perplexed Bahamian staff members, and a questionably sober Ja Rule—announced the debut of an extremely luxurious festival that was to be located on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma.
Customers who purchased high-priced tickets were promised entrance into a fantasy world that featured performances by Kanye West, Blink 182 and many other promising artists.
Additionally, it was implied that supermodels, such as Kendal Jenner and Bella Hadid, were to be casually roaming around. Food was to be catered, luxury tents and cabanas were promised, swimming with pigs was advertised and not to mention yacht brunches and parties.
Absolutely none of that happened.
What really happened can be seen on, not one but two, streaming services: Netflix and Hulu.
Though both display the unfolding of the chaotic event over the course of four or five months, each offers a different perspective as to what kind of legacy the Fyre Festival will leave on its generation.
Which one better showcases the unbelievable scam of the century? Well, that’s up for debate.
If one is looking for a nice narrative, the Netflix documentary, “Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened” is the way to go. Directed by Christ Smith, this documentary focuses on sharing what happened by untangling the events as the film starts off as chaotic as the entire festival itself.
If one already has a clear understanding of Fyre Fest, this film is perfect as it shares a more in-depth experience. Jerry Media, a marketing company that was hired by Billy McFarland to promote the festival, is also a producer of this film. With that being said, a lot of the footage is all captured during the actual production of the festival.
As Jerry Media was involved in the production and promotion of the festival, it seems questionable as to whether or not their involvement in the film is entirely ethical. After all, they did assist McFarland in conning thousands of customers and investors. Jerry Media staff members do mention that they were aware of the bizarre and unorganized methods of planning used by McFarland. However, the content of their footage shares just how frenzied the production of Fyre Fest was which ultimately makes Netflix’s film a bit juicier.
From the very beginning, the audience can see how stressed, confused and tired staff members and those involved in the production grew over time.
This film takes a comical approach, which makes it more down to earth. It also aims to make a clear villain out of Billy McFarland and shares its take as to what Fyre Fest 2017 is: the greatest scam of the century that victimized thousands of staff and customers.
On the other hand, the Hulu version, “Fyre Fraud,” takes a more biopic approach.
Directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason use a build-up method in regard to storytelling, making it more enjoyable for anyone who does not any clue what Fyre Fest was. Fyre Fraud aims to make the audience feel as if they were the target audience of Billy McFarland. The audience gets excited, nervous and pumped for the event only to be as equally shocked and angered as festival goers were.
Unfortunately, unlike Netflix’s version, “Fyre Fraud,” has very little footage of actual events during the production of Fyre Fest. Instead, it uses photo stills and feeds recorded by a mobile phone.
It does, however, have the one and only Billy McFarland. McFarland is featured in the film as he sits down with directors and producers and offers his take on what went down, how he felt and what his initial mission was.
Again, ethics are questioned as the network allegedly paid $250,000 to McFarland for his interview. Nonetheless, just as Netflix offers juicy content with Jerry Media film, the Hulu version offers an inside tap into McFarland’s brain.
This grows to be frustrating as the audience begins to witness McFarland’s unwillingness to answer some questions relating to his financial decisions. He chooses to avoid answering questions about his lawsuit and how it relates to the festival as well. However, as this fight for solid answers grows to be exasperating, the audience may be able to relate to those who actually dealt with McFarland during the Fyre Fest production. He was never transparent, honest or real. That is shown in the interview throughout the film, which is ironically pleasing.
This documentary aims to showcase the much bigger picture of the entire issue: the optimization and potential weaponization of social media. There is a heavy focus on millennial influencers within the realm of social media and the marketing of selling a dream or a concept in which followers will flock to just to become culturally relevant.
This essentially makes this a thought-provoking documentary that leaves the audience with an almost grotesque perspective on the millennial generation.
As both films do a great job displaying the whirlwind of emotions that the Fyre Fest provided, which film does a better job is entirely up to the occasion. Some may enjoy a witty and laid-back story that only Netflix can provide, while others are looking for a more serious and cutting-edge explanation of the unexplainable that is only offered by Hulu.
Either way, the story of Fyre Fest will go down in history as one of the most scandalous cons of the century and is worth looking into.