In 2017, the disastrous and failed Fyre Festival became a punchline pertaining to millennial culture, social media, and marketing schemes. But Hulu's new documentary dives deeper and Fyre Fraud may change viewers' take on social media and its limitless power. The film, now available on Hulu, explores how the events unfolded and includes an interview with the man dubbed a "modern day con" in the doc, Billy McFarland, creator of the festival. The documentary looks like a true eye-opener as it gets to the core of the festival fiasco: the frightening reality of how easily people are persuaded.
With social media as his tool, and ultimately his weapon, the twenty-something entrepreneur promised hundreds of millennials a luxurious experience of a lifetime: an epic, secluded festival in the Bahamas. "[It] was supposed to be the new Coachella, the new Burning Man, exclusivity with access to premiere talent," an interview voice-over explains in the new trailer. "It was going to be an experience bordering on impossible." McFarland used powerful visuals like model influencers and promised a lineup including Major Lazer, Blink 182, and Migos to sell out the festival (with tickets costing up to $12,000). As the trailer depicts, the "festival" actually "became Lord of the Flies" in a post-apocalyptic setting with no music, scarce food, panic attacks, and people scrambling for shelter on a beach in disaster relief tents.
But it was by understanding millennial motivations and tapping into the power of influence on the internet that McFarland was able to make it happen in the first place, which is truly scary.
"Billy understood what millennials, as a generation, want," an additional interview soundbite in the trailer explains. "What Fyre Festival did prove is that power of influence is real... These guys figured out a way to optimize social media, almost weaponize it." The interviews are supplemented with influencer photos, selfie videos of festival goers, tweets, and more. It not only suggests that millennials as a whole quickly buy into social media hype, but that they'd take extra measures to be part of the hype.
Another sad reality the documentary explores is the lengths people like McFarland are willing to go for money and how easy it is to commit such crimes in a social media age. "There are people who helped Billy commit fraud so they could make their money," one interviewee explains in the trailer. Another says, "There were never thousands of acts booked. And there were never millions of dollars paid."
While the documentary dropped on Hulu, the streaming service's Twitter account is playing up all of these aspects of the film with sassy tweets and jokes at the festival's expense. One tweet includes a meme that says, "TFW you're scamming rich millennials" and is captioned, "It be like that for Billy McFarland, creator of Fyre Fest."
Another makes fun of the festival for promising audiences it would be "lit" by showing the beach on fire:
One of Hulu's tweets is a wink-wink response to a fan who called out the festival scam:
In the end of the trailer, McFarland, who was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud in late 2018, is asked to respond to those claiming he's a sociopath. It leaves viewers with a daunting question wondering which is scarier: the ability of a con to commit crimes via social media or the ability millennials have to be influenced?
Editor's note: Bustle Digital Group acquired Mic in late 2018. Mic is a co-producer on Fyre Fraud.