‘It was an absolute Fyre Festival.’ Before Miami contestants were enlisted to save the world, another group signed up in Montreal. But where were the cameras?
In December, the biggest party in the history of the Internet was taking place in the French city of Montreal. The Fyre Festival was an attempt by Fyre Media, an American company founded by rapper Ja Rule, and its investors to turn a $500m (£390m) music festival into a reality TV show, featuring Ja Rule as a host.
The idea was to present Ja Rule as an ideal host, a hip-hop star with a new style who would bring people together in a “global village”. The festival, held over three days from 13-17 June, was supposed to be a celebration of the global music community during Ja Rule’s run as headliner.
More than 2,500 people gathered in the French-Canadian city to watch Ja Rule on stage on the first day, while the city’s mayor, Philippe Cataudella, said it was the “biggest party in the history of Montreal.” The second day was dedicated to the “Fyre Love Project”, and celebrities were paid to get naked and pose for pictures for a promotional film.
Then disaster struck. The festival, scheduled to feature 40,000 attendees, was cancelled, and the Fyre Festival team had to start all over again.
“The whole event, from the beginning, was a big mess,” a participant of one of two ‘lost time trials’ – a form of public event where participants race from one event to another, losing all their stuff along the way – would say after the second day. “The whole event just didn’t work.”
The ‘Fyre Festival’ was, they believe, proof of how a global, online event could be hijacked by a scam, but the consequences were far greater, and the festival’s failure was much more than a one-day flop.
The failure of the Fyre Festival was the first sign of what is now a global problem with the ways that people around the world use technology to share their lives.
Fyre Festival was created by Ja Rule, a former NFL football player and host of the BET reality series Ja Rule: The