The Hilarious Fyre Festival: A Utopia for the 1%

The Randian Paradise is Here at Last

Politics Features Ja Rule
The Hilarious Fyre Festival: A Utopia for the 1%

The only problem with the Fyre Festival was that it ended too early. As the Twitter user @palecompanion wrote, “Most of us only dream of putting the wealthy in a gulag, Comrade Ja has actually gone and done it #fyrefestival”

Oh, Ja Rule told us in all caps that the event was NOT A SCAM, but we all knew the truth: it was an obvious homage to the Lord of the Flies—it just had to be by design.

If you haven’t been reading Twitter or anywhere else online, you might not know what the Fyre Festival is and what it did. It’s literally schadenfreude the concert, and the bile being poured online is sides-killing. Never in the history of the world have there been so many people saying “Do you know who my father is?” at an airport.

The Fyre Festival was—was—a luxury concert planned for the well-heeled in the Bahamas. The musician Ja Rule was the front man. The notion was to pay significant dollars and jet out to the sunny isles of the Caribbean, away from the proles, and revel in the sun. For months Instagram accounts featuring models and taste-makers shared the vision of glory: the Fyre Festival would be a glorious celebration of all that was wonderful in upper-class American life: big music, big payment, and big times. Why not? There’s always an island to go to, if you can pay.

The Hollywood Reporter featured commentary by one of the “influencers” who was supposed to attend, Amanda Riley. She’s a model on Instagram:

I was in L.A. About six months ago, I was offered these tickets — everything paid for. They’re trying to get a lot of promotion from models. A couple friends and I were going to go, everything was paid and comped. We got tickets from the festival which is great that we didn’t have to spend all this money. I have friends that spent you know a couple thousand dollars and are worried that they’re not gonna get refunded. I got these tickets in exchange for a couple posts to help them with marketing.

Who hasn’t been there? The best record of the event was not the New York Times, which reported, rather sedately, that

“A supposedly opulent music festival on a private island in the Bahamas, which was promoted as an unprecedented V.I.P. event by Instagram influencers including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, descended into dysfunction and disarray as soon as it began on Thursday and has since been postponed indefinitely, organizers said.”

Rather, it came from the Web site Bustle, which hyped the wonder-show back in December:

Break out your best concert gear, because the must-attend festival of 2017 will be here before you know it. Ja Rule is the mastermind behind Fyre Festival, a two weekend event combining concerts, food, art, and exploration on the private island of Fyre Cay in the Bahamas. The Fyre Festival is unlike any other festival you will attend next year, thanks to its commitment to serving up a VIP experience for all guests. While the tickets to the festival come with a hefty price tag (the starting price for a weekend package is $1,500), the cost will be worth it for festival goers since the access to your favorite artists is unparalleled.

The “must-attend” festival was indeed “unlike any other festival” of 2017. Even though it was backed by Ja Rule, it wouldn’t have worked without the cooperation of the Internet, Instagram, and willing takers. Anybody who could afford to go could apparently afford to be taken for that kind of money, and plenty did.

The rest of the piece—and I highly advise you to go read it—was taken from marketing handbook 101; let sympathetic press outlets do your job. I know this because in reality, none of what was promised on Bustle (or any other site which advertised the festival) actually existed in reality. It was made up: the tales of food and frolic, the promises of exclusivity, all of it. Like in American Tail when the mice of Russia are promised all the felines in America are either nonexistent or murdered. They took the scoop at face value.

I don’t mean to pick on Bustle. They fell for the same sell everyone else did. The best part of the article, however, isn’t even the boosterism. It’s the corrections Bustle pasted on top:

The Fyre Festival has been cancelled, leaving many attendees stranded at the location in accommodations that appear to be nothing like those originally promised. Many are claiming that there is a lack of security, food, and other resources. Reportedly, attendees are also currently unable to get flights home.

Responses of sympathy were overwhelmingly slightly indifferent. Readers, the laughter was universal, and it was unflinching.

But, honestly? The rest of us don’t know how bad we look. I submit to you that Fyre Festival is actually Fyretopia. The super-wealthy finally have their own little place in the sun, and we’re the ones who are being left out.

For instance, the super-wealthy have everything but authenticity. Or they used to. Seen clearly, Fyretopia is a light-speed jump of innovation. For years, the elite have co-opted the fashions of the impoverished and marginalized … yet here on Fyretopia, they have willingly made themselves both marginalized and poor. Can the rest of us even hope to keep up? Checkmate, poors. Checkmate, cool kids.

As always, the wealthy are a step ahead of the plebs. The future from Ja Rule’s island prison—one knife and one conch shell dropped into a mob of feuding people—is the future the rest of us have been promised for years, but the elite of Fyretopia have actually done it: they have lived the life, they have hunted the wild hog, they have lived inside of the UN-style tent. Refugees live in hell conditions because they are forced to, but the elite live in these conditions voluntarily. Who’s braver? Checkmate, refugees.

You look at Fyretopia and you see a bunch of insufferable rich kids getting their just deserts. But after having written thousands of pages about the sins of Silicon Valley, I daresay their worldview has leeched into my own, like a well of lead paint seeping into the water table. I realize that now Ja Rule is not a short-changer or a con man, but a visionary innovator on the level of Steve Jobs, or Suharto. This is disruption of the dankest level. Lots of gamers have cooked up survival titles; but who could have written one for reality? Privation is the future of our economies. Checkmate, coal country. Checkmate, factory workers.

For years the rest of us have been told to be grateful for the one-percent. The credit didn’t belong to Elon Musk’s scientists and technicians, but to Musk himself; it’s why he’s in Trump’s business council, after all. We were told they were the makers, and we all were the takers. If countries raised the minimum wage, or instituted worker protections, or had any laws at all to stop the free flow of money, then the rich would revolt by taking their wealth elsewhere. And we would deserve it, for being so ungrateful. The fantasy of the elite was that they were suppliers, and the rest of us were parasites. And just look at how calmly the elite took their day of being stuck at a bad music festival. Checkmate, ninety-nine percent.

Since Ayn Rand first wrote about Galt’s Gulch, it’s been the dream of a subset of rich people … that they could go off to a secluded spot—a desert, under the sea, or … perhaps … an island, and create paradise, away from all the mediocrities. Away from all the haters. And after civilization had collapsed, when the rest of us were appropriately grateful, the great ones could come back and save us. It’s the last part of Atlas Shrugged:

They could not see the world beyond the mountains, there was only a void of darkness and rock, but the darkness was hiding the ruins of a continent: the roofless homes, the rusting tractors, the lightless streets, the abandoned rail. … “The road is cleared,” said Galt. “We are going back to the world.” He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.

And it finally happened! The Randian paradise is here! Here we see what a capable, creative, deserving bunch the one percent are. Behold: Fyretopia.

Fyretopia is what happens when the mega-wealthy finally get their chance to create their own world without the rest of us. When they are left alone, without us interfering. When they are left to their own devices. Their own work ethic. Their own genius. And what a perfect libertarian utopia they have created! For years, the elite have been making the world like Fyre Festival, and we didn’t appreciate them for doing it. Now they have decided to hoard it all to themselves: the discomfort, the poor food, the disillusionment, the economic disappointment, the feeling you’ve been had.

After all of these years, I have decided that Ms. Rand was quite right. We should let them stay there, and enjoy the fruits of their labors. The rest of us don’t deserve it.

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