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The most hyperreal scene in Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

I remember being in a journalism course in my third year of univeristy called Media and Audiences where we discussed the late postmodernist Jean Baudrillard and his theory on hyperreality which suggests a rather nihilistic outcome of society's obsession with images. Baudrillard believed that in our modern world of continuous consumption of goods and services, we buy things or engage in specific activitites to sustain a mere image of reality. Experiencing the advancements of new technology within society, Baudrillard conceptualized that modern society was quickly becoming incognizant to what is real and what is merely a representation of reality. If only Baudrillard could have lived to see the functionality of social media sites such as Instagram.


Quite irronically, as I was learning about spectacular culture and humanity's loss of reality, Netflix was releasing their documentary on the 2017 music festival disaster that was Fyre Fest. In short, Fyre Fest was this luxury music festival held in Exuma, Bahamas and run by now fraudster Billy MacFarland and rapper Ja Rule who were able to sell thousands of tickets by hiring famous instagram models for their promotional video. Lets be honest, who wouldn't want to party like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin-Bieber? Not only did this video promise their audience that they would recieve the celebrity lifestyle by partying on a private island that had been owned by Pablo Escobar and staying in luxurious beach-front suites, but they even promised that these models would be in attendence. By now, everyone knows that nothing the video promised was true. The event did not take place on a remote island but in the parking lot of a resort, guests did not stay in villas, but in left over FEMA tents from hurricane season, and of course, there were no celebrities in sight.

As a viewer watching the events unfold on screen, it's easy to condemn the idiocy of Fyre Fest's attendees just as easy as it is to call Billy Macfarland a fraud and a cheat. Why would they give in to giving thousands of dollars after watching one video of a beach party? When we think of the current climate of social media and user-behaviour, the answer becomes so much more clear. Millennials and Gen Zs today want experiences over materials. Of course today's youth went into a frenzy over Apple's release of airpods because it allowed them to engage with a trend. And for those who didn't have airpods, Snapchat had a filter that superimposed them onto your ears for you. I personally don't own airpods but when I see that I am the only person at the gym getting tangled up in wires, it creates the urgency for me to want to buy them. In today's society where one creates a finstagram (fake-instagram) account to show their filter-less, makeup-less photos, creating and maintaining an image is more important than ever. The Fyre Fest video was successful because it created the mere image of wealth and luxury, when in reality it was the furthest thing from that. As I said before, who wouldn't want to party with Instagram's biggest celebrities? People wanted to go to Fyre Fest to say that the went to Fyre Fest, that they partied on Pablo Escobar's island, that they danced within the vicinity of Kendall Jenner, and that they spent thousands of dollars for the opportunity to do so, because as Baudrillard's predecessor, Guy Debord, once said "being devolves into having". If you have a ticket for Fyre Fest, you hold the image of wealth, and after the event ends up being a complete sham, you own the bragging rights to say "I survived the biggest disaster in music festival history!" Hyperreality, perfected.

I think one of the most underrated and thoughtprovoking scenes that sums up Fyre Fest as a hyperreal event comes at the end of the documentary when a woman discusses an article she read about a photography company in Moscow, Russia that people pay to take pictures of them on a private jet that never leaves the tarmac. The company does the model's makeup, even giving them a bottle of champagne to use as prop. When these pictures are posted to social media it's not only for people to see that these "models" are on private jets and drinking expensive champagne, but for people to admire the lifestyle that they appear to be living which is all for the screens.

Baudrillard would be rolling in his grave.

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