Saturday, 21 March 2020

Movie review: Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, dir Chris Smith (2019)

This documentary is one of a number of cultural products chronicling the misbehaviour of some people in the tech sector; I reviewed books on Uber and Theranos last year. All of these nonfiction works are competent and involve in-depth reporting of the facts in each case.

To make ‘Fyre’, Smith got hold of a large quantity of video footage taken by people involved in the planning of a 2017 music festival which was to be held on an island in the Bahamas.

The festival was to be part of the product launch of a website where people would have the ability to book popular talent. To promote the event the company head, a man named Billy McFarland, got associates to conscript the services of fashion models and social media influencers. McFarland raised funds from investors as well as from paying customers who responded to a barrage of cryptic posts on such platforms as Twitter that were launched to generate buzz. By booking places at the event, people were supporting it, and providing funds to McFarland.

Smith also interviewed a number of people who helped to build the facilities for the event as well as those who executed it, built the company website, and catered for it. Many of these people reported how badly the event affected them emotionally due to McFarland’s unscrupulous conduct. As in the case of Theranos, a take-no-prisoners leadership style exacerbated the situation. If an employee or associate voiced misgivings, there would be consequences for them.

The film runs commentary on how vapid social media at its worst can be. The film can have broad appeal because of how deeply we have allowed social media to insinuate itself into our lives. This movie shows how social media is a part of life in a way that, a decade ago, it was not.

No comments: