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Sunday December 5th

Fyre Festival scammers deserve jail time

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By Alexa D'Aiello
Signal Contributor

The Fyre Festival, which was created to promote the Fyre music booking app, was supposed to take place in April and May of 2017 in the Bahamas on Pablo Escobar’s private island, according to promotional videos shot for the event. Netflix recently released an original documentary on the festival called, “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” which detailed what went wrong in the process of planning the event. The documentary chronicles the process of marketing for the festival up to when it became a Fyre flop all over the internet. For example, the festival was supposed to accomodate guests with luxury meals and villas, but attendees instead paid thousands of dollars to stay in tents and eat prepackaged meals.

Personally, I believe Fyre should have been shut down long before it even had the chance to grow into such a phenomenon. Billy McFarland was seen as an entrepreneur by many, but after his scams came out to the media, he was seen as the con artist he truly was. McFarland scammed all those around him and his mistakes harmed everyone who took some part in the Fyre Festival.

Video interviews in the documentary gave the different perspectives and timeline of when things started to head south for McFarland and Ja Rule, the duo who compared themselves to being the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson of entrepreneurship.

In interviews of several people involved with the Fyre Festival, it was made clear that the majority of members on the team knew the event was destined to fail.

The documentary shows the vision and fantasy the advertisements were selling versus the harsh reality of the conditions.

“We’re selling a pipe dream to your average loser,” McFarland said.

These words directly from McFarland show his true colors and expose that the Fyre Festival really was a fraud. From the documentary it is clear to me that McFarland knew what he was advertising versus what he was actually planning on selling.

McFarland comes across as a nice guy in the beginning of the documentary, but toward the end my opinion of him drastically changed. Seeing the way he talked about how he would never end up in jail and how he continued to try and scam others even after the Fyre Festival made McFarland a very dislikable person after watching the full Netflix documentary.

The only real solutions to the Fyre Festival were for McFarland to come clean or to cancel the festival altogether. However, those who worked for him knew these solutions would never happen.

Real footage taken by attendees of the festival only added to the evidence of how much of a disaster this paradise had turned into. With numerous interviews from those who are now part of individual lawsuits as well as class action lawsuits, it is clear that Fyre was officially a failure.

The saddest part of the documentary for me came from watching the Bahamian people leave without any consolation for the hard work and wasted time they had put into the festival. This part of the film made me want justice for the people on the island and for McFarland to get punished with jail time or other repercussions.

Restaurant owner Maryann Rolle had employees of her business work day and night to serve the thousands of attendees. With no pay out from the festival, she was forced to use her own savings of $50,000 to pay workers. The documentary as a whole was very well thought out and seemed to place the footage and interviews exactly where they needed to go in order to make an impact. For me, the most satisfying moment is in the last few minutes of the movie when McFarland’s fate of a six-year federal prison sentence is displayed on-screen.

Mcfarland got what he deserved with his prison sentence after all he had lied about regarding Fyre to not only the attendees, but for all those involved in the creation of the disastrous festival.

Students share opinions around campus

“Did Billy McFarland deserve a different sentence?”

“He should have been given a harsher punishment because so many people lost so much.”

Stephanie Geer, a freshman early childhood education and psychology dual major (Isabel Vega/Opinions Editor).

“I think justice was served and his sentence was an appropriate response to his behavior.”

Richard Miller, a freshman communication studies major (Isabel Vega/Opinions Editor).


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