Not rated, but again...it's the Fyre Festival. It's a story about a bad person doing a bad thing and it completely falling apart. It's about heavy drinking and irresponsible behavior. The f-word is regularly used throughout because of the association with Jerry Media. (Jerry Media is more commonly referred to as a curse word.) It has the tone of an MSNBC special edition, only with language. Not rated, but would probably be rated R for F-Jerry.
DIRECTORS: Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason
Do you know how hard it is to figure out which image came from Hulu? I had to break my own rule and put an image that had the "Hulu Originals" logo on it because I really wasn't sure which documentary about the Fyre Festival was which when it came to imagery. At least when it came to a Google search. A lot of people are behind this one of the two docs. I get it. I think I also have a bad taste in my mouth knowing that the Netflix Fyre documentary had the Jerry Media guys behind it. But Hulu is kind of taking the high ground...when there is something really problematic about this one.
Yeah, both are worth watching. My wife and I enjoyed the Netflix one better because we got on the ground floor of the Fyre Festival itself when we watched it. If you wanted to know exactly why the Fyre Festival failed so fantastically (alliteration!), watch the Netflix one. Yeah, Fyre Fraud, the Hulu one gives you a lot of the same beats. But the story is primarily about what kind of person Billy McFarland is. That's interesting...but just not as interesting as watching it from the ground. But I started this whole paragraph with the idea that the Hulu one has its own problematic element. If Netflix is guilty for hiring the Jerry Media guys, Hulu is kind of terrible for paying Billy McFarland. Billy McFarland, in every version of the story, is the head honcho of why everything went wrong. Fyre Fraud actually focuses the lens on Billy and his empire of get-rich-quick schemers, yet paid him for exclusive interviews. The movie casts a pretty high moralistic shadow on Billy. They condemn him as a monster for causing the problems of Fyre Fest and that's probably pretty right. But at the center of this film is Billy McFarland's interviews. He's what is driving attention from the Netflix documentary. The Netflix doc may have had the story of taking one for the team, but the Hulu doc has Billy McFarland himself. He wasn't just here out of the goodness of his heart or to clear his name. He actually kind of appears, at least initially, as the "buck-stops-here" guy. It is only when the questions get really tough about his character does he seem to get upset about the whole thing. Why would he sit through that? He's getting paid. Yeah, Hulu may have the upper hand when it comes to having the documentary that's not being made by the guys trying to clear their own names, but it also is paying the devil and encouraging him to continue with his money making schemes. If Billy McFarland has a price tag that says that you can say anything you want about him on camera, that means that the value of the paycheck is worth more than anything you can say about him. He's letting you say this stuff. It kind of feels like a circus side-show, having Billy McFarland at the center of your documentary. Your morals don't really stand up to scrutiny if you are paying the guy that you consider evil to show up and shill your wares. Again, this Fyre Fest documentary fever almost deserves a documentary by itself. The topic is interesting. The fact that two streaming companies are sullying their good reputations by trying to deliver slanted versions of the truth is ironic in itself.
But then I have to analyze the film without the knowledge of the behind the scenes. Especially in today's day-in-age, when creators are starting to overshadow their creations, I suppose that I kind of have to decide if there is validity in the art itself. I enjoy the Netflix one better. The Hulu documentary, frankly, is a little boring. I mean, I'm still riveted. They could come up with ten documentaries worth of new Fyre Fest information and I'll still probably watch it. Again, I love when rich brats try to "survive" after spending a lot of money. It's hilarious to me because I'm a terrible human being and I also have my own high horse to ride off into the sunset. But Fyre Fraud is critical of an entire system of success and that's what I really like. Fyre Fraud looks at a world that encourages Billy McFarlands to survive and thrive. Starting out even before Billy McFarland became even remotely successful, we get to meet the financiers who taught Billy the works. I don't know if this is a universal truth, but if you want to be ungodly rich, you apparently have to stretch the truth about everything you do. The structure in America today, according to Fyre Fraud, is based on the idea that lots of people lie. It only really becomes illegal if you get caught. Keep all of this in mind because I'm only remembering this right now, about a week removed from when I actually watched this documentary, but the movie starts off with McFarland's mentor committing suicide the day after he is accused of fraud. Mind you, it says that he crashed his car, but the circumstances are really suspicious to not think in that light. The Netflix doc introduces Magnesis, the credit card company that McFarland started. Both documentaries really stress that Magnesis was not a success. But Hulu really sells that as far as it could have gone. SPOILER: I love this. I had no idea what the Magnesis card was based on the Netflix version. The first Magnesis card was just Billy McFarland's debit card strip taped to a piece of metal the size of a credit card. When it worked, he made it big. Come on. That story is perfect. Thank you, Fyre Fraud, for putting that element in the movie because McFarland's entire life is based on taking someone else's success and then trying to put his own little spin on it. The movie addresses what McFarland did after Fyre. NYC VIP was this con that he tried where he tried to sell tickets to events that don't really have tickets. He did this while he was on bail. The thing that Fraud pointed out is that this actually how he got started. I always thought it was weird that McFarland would try to put such a basic con on immediately after getting out on bail, but it is very telling that his entire life was based around conning people.
And that brings me to the interesting center of this film. The Netflix doc really sold me the idea that McFarland was a guy who kept cutting corners and depended on having a hugely optimistic / cocky attitude to get him ahead in life. He wanted Fyre Festival to work almost because a successful Fyre Fest / Fyre app would have legitimized him from con artist to entrepreneur. But Fyre Fraud, the Hulu doc, really stresses that Billy McFarland may have just been conning people that entire time too, until he was caught. Fyre Fest would never have worked and implies that McFarland might have known that it wasn't going to work. Neither even implies why he would do something so public if he knew that he was going to get caught. But I think that he was blinded by his own persona. He conned himself. He saw the potential for something awesome that was spinning out of one his cons and that's what got him. The thing that I really wanted from both films that I never really got was Ja Rule and his role in this. Fyre, the Netflix one, kind of lets him a little bit off the hook. He kind of comes across as being fleeced by this guy, but as a bit of a moron. Fyre Fraud makes him look like a bad guy, but due to criminal incompetence. Ja Rule comes across like a clown in this version, showing his appearance on a podcast infamous for getting its guests drunk. Why is Ja Rule free of this? Is he? I know that he is the public face of Fyre because he actually was famous outside of corporate circles. But Ja Rule kept going along with Billy McFarland. Every single person in all of these documentaries stress the moments where they tried to tell Billy that this wasn't going to work out...except for Ja Rule. That's because Ja Rule was in charge of this. Sure, Ja Rule isn't a businessman. But, by that logic, neither was Billy McFarland. There were a lot of people who said yes to two guys who weren't businessmen. Ja Rule is clearly not a businessman. You wanted to hang out with Ja Rule. Billy McFarland just kept failing up. And that's the message, I suppose. People are attracted to people who fail upwards. The documentary gives a list of the many many people who have scammed their ways into our hearts and how people just followed along. Fyre Fraud is the corporate takedown. Yes, this movie is about Fyre and how things quickly spun out of control. But Fyre Fraud actually has larger aspirations than simply looking at Fyre. This is a look at how every major company and movement that has risen out of nothing probably has something to hide. It gains attention from famous people being attached, even though they don't know what it means to endorse something. We get to know some of these endorsers / influencers and it's shocking to see how vapid these people are. It's bizarre. So Fyre Fest failed from a million little steps that should have been avoided. Thanks, Netflix, for bringing that up and I liked that a lot. But I need to thank Hulu for letting me know the environment where this constantly happens. The only thing that made Fyre a thing is that we all saw it fail on every media platform imaginable.
I'm a little ashamed about how interesting I find the Fyre Fest. I suppose it is more healthy than the murder docs I keep getting into. No one died. The people of the Bahamas only get a little note at the end of this doc and they really are victims. But again, I find this kind of stuff fascinating. It really attacks the stuff that I love attacking. I don't know why we're obsessed with celebrity culture like we are. But sometimes, seeing jerks get their comeuppances...that's a little fun.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.