In the same way that music is not just about sound, cinema is not made of fiction. So let’s talk about music at the cinema with the shocking documentary from Netflix: Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. SPOILER ALERT LEVEL 5/5
Imagine an absolutely perfect festival, which brings the perfect snapshots of Instagram to life. The images would be fabulous, a paradisiacal setting, a permanent party and the omnipresent luxury. If luxury is your idea of fun, of course. On Pablo Escobar’s island, an entrepreneur, Billy McFarland, wants to set up what would be the best festival on the planet and the most exclusive.
The tickets are overpriced, between $450 and $250 000. It is potentially through communication and a well-thought marketing process that they sold out. A sold out before the doors open… for people new to festival organization, it is encouraging and very quickly McFarland surrounds himself with people who believe in him and his revolutionary vision of the luxury festival. At least, that’s the majority. Those who are more uncertain get motivated by McFarland’s flawless insurance or his demands to obey orders, for the sake of the festival.
And then there’s the flip side of the coin: how to create a festival? On which funds? What budget? What artists? What tents? What services? What water? What electricity? What place? What security? So many details that make a festival a success or a failure. And here, of course, it’s a failure. It has been so radical that it seems to be fabricated from scratch. Is this a mockumentary? Fiction disguised around the theme “Music Festival”? No, this is actually real.
Let’s start with the place: the paradisiacal island would have been given to McFarland, or rather it would have an arrangement, or he can use it, provided not to say that it belonged to Escobar. He says it in the promotion video shot there. He gets thrown off the island. They have to rethink everything else. The project travels from island to island to find a place in a space absolutely not designed for that. He says nothing about it on social networks, the advertising remains the same.
Let’s continue with the promises to the festival attendees. For this price, there is everything: choose the luxury tents on the beach, with Internet access and spacious beds. Alternatively opt for the Villa of influencers, the private jet flight as well as the exclusive jet ski activities. Buy an add-on for a party on a boat not far from the coast. There will be a flawless restoration with sushi and Tempura and other caviar canapés anyway. Everything is fake, of course. But the add seems so real, so true…
The result: flooded tents, unsanitary, without water or electricity, laid on concrete with mattresses soaked with rainwater. The sandwiches are a simple piece of bread accompanied by a poor slice of tomato and a square of cheese that looks more like plastic than something edible.
Music, at last, we’re getting there. Major Lazer, Blink 182, Migos… the list is not very long and we quickly see that the goal of this festival is not to see artists on stage as to take a lot of photos for his Instagram account, meet the celebrities invited in their villas on the beach and make the organizers’ good reputation. The payments for the artists are never been made, they cancel their appearance, of course.
All the attendees arriving at the Fyre Festival discovered, little by little, every single lie. Fraud is immense. A nice scam based on social networks and influencers used and paid to be imposing and omnipresent advertising screens in the digital landscape.
But this is not the most shocking in my opinion. What seems to be a parody in this documentary is very real. When one of the producers announces that they need to film a plan with a drone, with the girls on the three boats in a V formation, one might believe, given its tone, to a big joke. When they understand that security is lacking, it is very real. Everything until the last second, the stubbornness of McFarland, the bizarre requests to his colleagues… Everything is real and that is what makes me shiver in fear.
Justice does the work on its side by sending McFarland to jail for a moment. Here, we have a strange fascination for the festival, its conception and its failure. If the documentary is not perfect, 100% objective or complete, we remain fascinated by the way of doing and we are still waiting for this moment when we are told that it is a joke, that will probably never come…
We regret that it was not the music that was at the heart of the project. But we also understand very quickly that if the music was at the heart of the project, the festival would probably not have been thought the same way. Anyway, no line-up will ever be worth $450.