Fyre Festival Torch Job

I once knew an old fire chief and he used to describe arson as, “a New York torch job”…no matter where it happened. Arson, as you well know, is a crime committed to defraud an insurance company and make off with the cash. Of course insurance companies and law enforcement are pretty good at sniffing out circumstances when arson is likely to have occurred, and when they do the guy playing with fire is the one who gets burned.

According to Wikipedia, the Fyre Festival was “a failed ‘luxury music festival’ founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. It was created with the intent of promoting the company’s Fyre app for booking music talent.”

Here’s the promo video…

Slick promotional video

Two documentaries (one from Hulu and the other from Netflix) were released a couple of weeks ago. According to The New Republic website, “Both documentaries purport to tell the ‘real’ story behind the Fyre Festival debacle of 2017, in which the charlatan Billy McFarland ripped off customers who had bought into an Instagram-fueled dream of partying with supermodels in the Bahamas. The dream never materialized—instead of champagne and concerts and luxury villas, ticket-holders encountered FEMA tents, empty beaches, and a transportation crisis. McFarland left behind a trail of unpaid debts, notably to the residents of Great Exuma itself, and ended up in jail for wire fraud.”

But this is where things really get interesting. According to The New Republic, the Netflix version of the story may be an attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the festival’s much maligned promoter. The full article is worth the read and contains fascinating information about how this scam materialized. For example, Kendall Jenner was paid $250,000 for one Instagram tweet promoting the festival. As MCCNM student Monique Cousin observed, “it was Instagram that created the buzz for the festival, and one tweet of a cheese sandwich that brought it down.”

The infamous cheese sandwich pic

The article concludes with this caution…”Fyre Festival is a story about insidious digital marketing, corporate irresponsibility, and the misdeeds of a handful of men who control the images that appear on your social media and shape your opinions.”

The event billed as “the cultural experience of the decade” turns out to be just another warning of eminent danger ahead for those who can’t read the signs of the times.

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