At this point, you’ve likely heard of #FyreFestival, the supposed music festival billed as a once in a lifetime experience for the affluent concert-goer.
However the story of Fyre Fest goes far beyond the hashtag that spawned a Friday afternoon’s worth of memes and jokes at the expense of rich millennials. The Festival, if I’m going to dignify it with the designation, is a manifestation of the modern marketer, namely “founder” (read: pending lawsuit defendant) Billy McFarland.
The more one reads about Billy McFarland, the further one strays from the truth. Reading into his past, each business dealing and partnership is riddled with false promises, logistical shortcomings, and upset stakeholders. The nature of the Fyre Festival debacle and subsequent coverage of the story has demanded that McFarland be consistently referred to as a “business man” or “entrepreneur,” however these are also designations McFarland has fallen well short of earning. This “fake it ‘till you make it” infamy was presumably the common thread that connected McFarland and Fyre Festival cofounder Ja Rule, who has occasionally been referred to as an artist/rapper/musician despite failing to elevate himself above The Guy 50 Cent Won’t Stop Trolling.
Just as Ja Rule did, to accept Billy McFarland as a benevolent businessman is to accept the long con, one which provides the foundation for each short con to follow, whether it be an app to outsource design work, a black card for the elite called Magnises, or an imaginary musical festival. This appears to be Ja Rule’s biggest mistake, as McFarland and his business ventures can appear legitimate at first, however any further investigation seems bound to expose the reality that McFarland and his businesses lack substance.
Magnises is “Latin for absolutely nothing,” McFarland told the New York Post in 2014. “The name is made up, but it sounds grand, doesn’t it?”
I don’t know if McFarland can claim to have made up the term “Fyre” (although I’m sure he would try) but the previous quote is just as applicable to Fyre Festival as it is to Magnises. In fact, “absolutely nothing” is a more accurate description of what McFarland consistently pedals. That, or “hope” which is all those involved in Fyfe Festival seem to have now that the event has been revealed to be a complete sham. Although you wouldn’t know it reading the official Fyre Festival website, which (at time of writing) displays a statement regarding the events of April 29th as well as this juicy promise for those with some room on their Magnises card:
“All festival goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival.”
Next. Year’s. Festival. You’ve got to admire Billy McFarland’s ability to lie in the clutch, even if it leads to reprehensible consequences down the line. Without any evidence to suggest that Fyre Festival could even approximate the logistical necessities to hold a music festival, let alone a luxurious one, he has already begun the next ask: Fyre Festival 2018.
At first, it was reported that Fyre Festival would be returning to the Bahamas. Later, McFarland backtracked to Miami. Next week I expect McFarland to announce Fyre Festival 2018 will be held in Las Vegas, or the moon, or Mars. This is the reality of Billy McFarland: one lie sustained by another larger lie, the latter distracting the target from the mounting pile of evidence that could otherwise topple the whole pyramid. And while I would love to rip into McFarland for perpetuating such bullshit, I struggle to blame him for convincing people to buy in and believe in something that was otherwise logistically impossible. Be it a festival, a wall, or a movement, promises of tomorrow are more enticing than the potential problems of next week, and until that changes the suckers among us are destined to wind up in the middle of a storm again sometime soon.