“So many things had to go right to make it this big of a failure,” Billy McFarland explains, somewhat confusingly, in Fyre Fraud, Hulu’s new documentary about the failure that was Fyre Fest, the now-legendary music festival gone horribly wrong. McFarland, who is spending the next six years in prison for fraud associated with the festival, is almost certainly the most villainous character in this story, but after watching the Hulu doc, and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, it’s clear many terrible people had a hand in orchestrating this horrible and viral event.
Yes, there is Ja Rule — the the greatest hype man a scammer could hope for — whose reputation is definitely not improved by these movies, but there are others! So many others! There are probably even more who didn’t appear in the documentaries, but share some responsibility for defrauding investors and leaving hundreds of Bahamian workers unpaid for months of labor, but here is a rundown the ones we know were at least partially responsible for the failure of Fyre Fest and its subsequent fallout.
Grant Margolin, Billy McFarland’s right-hand man
One woman in the Hulu documentary compared Margolin, who seems generally despised, to Dwight from The Office. In both documentaries he is portrayed as a terrible boss and someone who, according to the SEC, negligently provided substantial assistance to McFarland in certain aspects of the scheme. In the end, he got out of the whole fiasco consenting to a civil penalty of $35,000, which seems rather light considering he was in charge of marketing for the Fyre Fest scam. Now he’s an EMT, and I don’t know how a man goes from ruining people’s lives to saving them but, that’s what happened here.
The site that created a home for flat tummy tea spon-con and Diplo, allowed Fyre Fest to thrive. The Fyre saga really began when several major influencers and models like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Chanel Iman, posted a bunch of enticing photos from the Bahamas and hundreds of others posted an orange tile. From there Billy McFarland was able to commit several major financial crimes and strand hundreds of millennials on the far side of a small island for almost two days.
MDavid Low, one of the developers at the FYRE Company
Not only was it his idea was to hold the festival, but after the failure of Fyre, he partnered with Ja Rule again to create the booking platform ICONN. I feel like one failed business venture with Ja Rule is already too many. But two?
People who bought tickets because the event was on “Pablo Escobar’s Island”
It’s hard to feel truly sorry for anyone who had the money and time to spend three days at Fyre Festival, but the worst of all the attendees were the people who thought partying on Pablo Escobar’s Island would be cool. Glamorizing the image of one of the most violent drug kingpins to ever exist is bad! That brings us to our next villains.
The entirety of the Fuck Jerry staff, circa 2017
Fuck Jerry started as an Instagram account that bloomed into the media and advertising company, Jerry Media, which helped corporations better market themselves to millennials. The founder of the company, Elliot Tebele, was one of the executive producers on Netflix’s documentary, so Jerry Media comes across slightly better than in the Hulu telling of this story, but during the lead-up to the festival, they worked to make traveling to “Pablo Escobar’s Island” seem cool and to obfuscate the extent of Fyre Fest’s failures preceding the event.
Marc Weinstein, “music festival consultant”
In addition to being one of the men putting Fyre Fest together, Weinstein was also billed as the the festival’s yoga instructor. He claims that he repeatedly tried to warn everyone that the festival was going to be a disaster, but he still showed up!
Everyone who encouraged Billy McFarland
An entire network of investors, co-workers, rich people, and even some people in media encouraged McFarland’s constant upward failing. They heard his mediocre ideas and his poorly laid plans, and instead of telling him no, someone introduced him to Ja Rule.
Calvin Wells, the guy who made the Twitter account exposing Fyre Fest as a scam
Calvin was one of the first Fyre Fest doubters, and created an entire Twitter account trying to warn people to not got to the festival. He was featured in both documentaries, but he kept saying “truncated” in the Hulu doc, which felt unnecessary.
All of the influencers who went to Fyre Fest
Both documentaries featured influencers speaking about their festival experiences. Alyssa Lynch, an Instagram celebrity with almost 500,000 followers, was placed in one of the few villas that actually existed, and her lack of sympathy for people stranded on the beach was palpable. There’s Austin Mills, who on camera described his brand as “positivity.” And there was Seth Crossno, who actually won a $5 million settlement after suing Billy McFarland, but in both films seemed very concerned with his own bad experience and little else. Worst of all may have been an unnamed white guy with cornrows who made a very brief appearance in Netflix’s doc, saying, “Fyre festival baby, here we go.”