'I thought I wasn't interested in the story of Fyre Festival. Then I saw Netflix's documentary.'


The imagery is more compelling than anything the media could’ve conjured up on their own.

Thousands of obscenely wealthy Americans arrive on an idyllic island in the Caribbean for a music festival they learned about on Instagram.

Kendall Jenner told them to go, and so did Bella Hadid. They saw photos of crystal clear waters, white sand, jet skis, beautiful models, and swimming pigs, and in response they booked yachts, private planes, villas, luxury tents and wellness activities for a weekend music festival – spending anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000.

Image via Netflix.

But when they arrive, things don't look like the did in the promotional video. The luxury tents are actually emergency tents - like those used after a natural disaster - and the mattresses inside are wet. The private plane is a retired commercial plane, which many described as more uncomfortable than flying economy. The gourmet food is a cheese sandwich served in a styrofoam box, and there physically isn't enough space for everyone to stay. Before the majority of people had even landed in Great Exuma (not a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar, as advertised), one of the big name music acts, Blink 182, had already pulled out.

On Twitter, one user described the entire scenario as "Rich Kids of Instagram" meets Lord of the Flies. As darkness descended on the first night, the site turned to anarchy, with guests having to fight to get tents, food and their luggage. Before the sun rose the next morning, the festival had been cancelled. Thousands of people returned to the airport, only to be locked inside with no food and no water.

Obscenely wealthy Americans, scammed out of lots and lots of money, and having their expectations of luxury met with a scenario necessitating survival mode.

It's like a scene from a movie.

Watch the trailer for Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. Post continues after video. 

Video by Netflix

But the way the failed Fyre Festival panned out is very much a true story. One with such topical themes - greed, power, deception, responsibility - that less than a year later, it's the focus of a new Netflix documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. 

The spectacle of Fyre Festival, for many people, rings as a viral, cultural joke. But, for perhaps the first time, Netflix's documentary explores how the story of Billy McFarland's failed music festival is both comedy and tragedy.

For the wealthy festival goers having the weekend from hell - disappointed and angry but not significantly hurt - it's a story that, in the words of comedian Ron Funches, exemplifies "Darwinism at its finest". Even an employee of Fyre Festival, who was distraught and disturbed by what was unfolding in the weeks and days leading up to the festival, couldn't help but laugh when it started to rain the night before the festival, ruining what inadequate facilities they had managed to set up. It was a defeated laugh - a reaction to the extreme irony of the entire 'luxury' lie - but it was a laugh nonetheless.

But for the Bahamian locals, who worked for tens of thousands of hours without ever receiving their pay, the punchline isn't so funny.

Maryann Rolle, the Exuma Point restaurant owner, hired staff and worked around the clock to feed staff and attendees of the festival. But when the event was cancelled, she was never paid.

Maryann Rolle. Image via Netflix.

Speaking in Fyre, she says, "I had ten people working with me directly. They were just preparing food all day and all night, 24 hours. I had to pay all those people. I went through about $50,000 of my savings that I could have had. They just wiped it out, and never looked back".

If you thought the story of Fyre Festival was too far away, too far removed to appeal to you, this documentary will change your mind. It raises questions about capitalism, the power of influencers, and the ethics of working for a business, or a person, who isn't making decisions you agree with.

It's highly compelling, thought-provoking viewing, and by the end you'll know exactly why the rise and fall of Fyre Festival is a conversation we'll be having for years to come.