Fyre Fraud  (2019)

The last [Celluloid Hero] was for Netflix's "Fyre" documentary, so this week I figured I'd follow up with Hulu's take on the Fyre Festival. For the quickest recap, some tech douche scammed a bunch of rich millennials, and everyone laughed at them, then the douche got busted by the FBI and went to jail.

The Hulu doc actually came out a few days earlier than the Netflix version, and although there is obvious overlap, each version had a very different tone. There are interviewees that appear in both, but there are also plenty of people that only show up on Netflix or only on Hulu. The biggest difference is that Hulu convinced the scammer himself, Billy McFarland, to appear (I haven't heard how much they paid, but rumors said somewhere in the 6 digit range). It ended up being a complete waste of money though, because McFarland and his stupid punchable face just responded to questions in buzzwords, denials, or just plain silence.

Another huge difference, one that I didn't learn until after watching this version, was that the guys from Jerry Media were actually the producers of the Netflix version. Jerry Media was notorious for being the biggest promoters of Fyre Festival; while Netflix doesn't portray them as completely innocent, they definitely shift things to "hey, we were just being paid to promote an event", while Hulu dives deeper into the awful thieving manipulators that Jerry Media is made up of.

There was also a tonal difference, one that actually turned me off a bit. Hulu tried to make things a bit more humorous, inserting clips from The Simpsons and Family Guy and old public domain cartoons. It was all meant to poke fun at how ridiculous meme culture is, but it still felt like McFarland and Jerry and the others were fine at ruining themselves; we didn't need cliche music cues to tell us.

I think the biggest unanswered question across both docs is how people ever believed McFarland. Interviews talk about how charming he was, and how he could sell anyone on anything...but every time he opened his mouth, he just seemed insincere. Obviously he's talking to Hulu after being busted, but he just seemed so nervous, unable to come up with an answer at all, when someone who is allegedly so charming and smooth should be able to come up with a convincing lie on the fly, right? All I know is that if a guy like that asked me to invest a penny, I'd laugh in his face.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Fyre Fraud" a 6 out of 10.




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