Ja Rule and Billy McFarland’s Fyre Festival was meant to take place on the island of Great Exuma in 2017, and is greatly exhumed in Netflix documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened; a subtitle that ought to be reserved for the rave from The Matrix Reloaded, or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
As well as falling nicely into the ‘entitled people getting their comeuppance’ subgenre (The People Under the Stairs, every Johnny Depp film that loses money) Fyre feels like Gimme Shelter for our time. At least Altamont had security guards, even if they were Hells Angels. Just as that film marked the end of an era, this captures a very modern scandal; it’s about social media, “influencers” and people who use phrases like “Kendall Jenner yacht party” without irony.
Because the whole affair played out on social media, director Chris Smith (not the one who made Creep and Triangle, although videos from the campsite do have a definite Blair Witch vibe) has the footage literally at his fingertips. He also speaks to Fyre Media employees and other contractors, most of whom come off quite badly and all of whom blame CEO McFarland; a man with about as much idea of how to put on a music festival as Leave.EU.
The movie charts the bizarre twists and turns that stemmed from McFarland’s incompetence, belligerence and compulsive lying (remind you of anyone?), refusing to cancel the Fyre Festival when all signs pointed to disaster (remind you of anything?). As a result the festivalnogoers were greeted by a site that looked worse than most festivals do after the fact, looking more like Dumpster Fyre Festival or Refugee Camp Bestival.
Ironically for an event that focused on social media instead of infrastructure, the internet was soon gleefully watching the Fyre Festival burn. These insights make the movie highly entertaining and hugely relevant, recalling Generation Wealth; another documentary concerning our extreme obsession with image. As an indictment of modern society and our failure to heed the stormiest of warnings, Fyre fascinatingly turns from Gimme Shelter into Take Shelter.