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Weekend Fyre Viewing

They’re saying snow, but so far there’s nothing but a restless, half-frozen rain going on. I’m hopeful we’ll avoid a layer of ice on everything; since we live near the mouth of the Columbia Gorge the wind often gives us a final fillip of freezing that makes tires refuse to grip and shoes refuse to stick.

This weekend I watched both the Netflix and Hulu documentaries about the Fyre Festival. The Netflix one was structured like a morality play and had access to footage shot for what was going to be an adulatory documentary (if the thing came off); the Hulu one was structured like a true-crime documentary and had an interview with McFarland, the grifter who put the whole show on (and, incidentally, spent the money). I do recommend seeing both, for different reasons. McFarland, in the Hulu documentary, has pupils the size of saucers and a complete lack of remorse; if you want to see what a con man looks like when he’s high off his gourd and visibly remembering what his lawyers have told him not to comment on, there it is.

All during both shows, I just kept hearing my grandfather’s voice inside my head, saying “y’all can’t cheat an honest man.” My ex-husband used to say something similar–that grifts work because of people who want something for nothing or something too good to be true. I won’t deny a bit of schadenfreude watching “influencers” with more money than sense end up in a waterless, Lord of the Flies-esque FEMA-tent village, but the locals who weren’t paid–and the people working hard on the Fyre app whose paychecks stopped coming regularly but who were seduced into keeping on through a sick system using their best qualities against them–didn’t deserve this bullshit, and the Netflix app goes in much more detail about the effects McFarland’s con had on them.

For those who did watch the documentaries, there’s a “where are they now” article.

One of the things that struck me watching both documentaries was how images of scantily clad women were used to sell “the dream.” More than once, a man on either documentary says “on a drug island surrounded by beautiful women? Who wouldn’t want that?” The models used for the now-famous promotional video had no idea they were part of a con and were presumably paid for their work; after the reality set in, plenty of people got shirty with the models and the “influencers” instead of with McFarland, who stayed out of prison much longer than anyone non-white or non-male could ever believe possible.

Another strange thing: at least once during each documentary, someone who was being interviewed got a call from McFarland, and answered it on screen. There are still people who pick up the phone when that fellow calls.

Just…wow. Being a rich white boy–or even looking like one–is a helluva drug.

I’m also surprised that, with our “justice” system the way it is, Ja Rule didn’t get into more trouble. He must have clearly and unequivocally been innocent of wrongdoing and had super high-powered lawyers, since the usual thing in these cases is to harass the bit players (especially if they’re people of color) endlessly and let the head of the pyramid scheme go with a slap on the wrist.

Anyway, I spent the weekend watching that while a houseful of teenage boys pillaged my kitchen, since the Little Prince wanted a Smash Bros. sleepover. I put on a Burrito Night to end all Burrito Nights and, once they were full to the gills with beans, rice, chicken, and tortilla, promptly banished them downstairs with mountains of crisps and sodas. A few odd smells and bursts of deep, loud laughter drifted up the stairs, but other than that, it was a reasonably quiet event, and I remember feeling quite grateful. After all, I’d been watching event planning go horribly, terribly wrong all weekend.

That was my weekend. I hope yours was peaceful, dear Reader, and remember: never trust a blinking con artist, especially one who calls you “bro” all the time.

Too good to be true inevitably is.