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Fyre Fest went from a celebrity-fueled "luxury" vacation to a viral laughingstock

Ja Rule's fiasco of a music concert yielded hilarious social commentary from the internet peanut gallery.

Olivia Bannock/Twitter
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Attendees seem to have had a terrible time at Fyre Fest, the disastrous Bahaman music festival that turned out to be a shoddily produced fiasco that had to be canceled a few hours in. But gawkers on the internet have subsequently had a great time mocking the chaos on social media.

With ticket prices ranging from $450 to $12,000 (not counting upgrades), and some ticket levels reportedly topping out at a $250,000 group rate, Fyre Fest was sold as a lavishly produced luxury vacation held over two weekends on a “private island once owned by Pablo Escobar” in the Exumas district of the Bahamas. There, attendees could attend concerts from headlining artists Blink 182 and Tyga.

Co-founded by Ja Rule and promoted heavily on Instagram and Twitter by a litany of supermodels, Kendall Jenner, and other low-level celebrities, the festival advertised glitzy perks like VIP tents on the beach, each complete with luxury king beds, gourmet meals prepared by celebrity chefs, and a VIP jet party. The festival boasted that attendees could also stay in “modern geodesic domes” or on yachts just off the shore.

Despite early rumblings that the fest had run out of money and artists were not being paid, a nebulous, vague list of performers that seemed to change from moment to moment, alleged weird behavior from promoters, and changing last-minute itineraries, the festival was supposed to be in full swing by Thursday. And to some extent, it was:

But what the hardy travelers found when they got to the Exumas was a chaotic nightmare of misinformation, disorganization, and apparent fraud.

The “private” island turned out to be a small wedge of public island right next to a Sandals resort. Staff was inadequate or missing altogether, while performing artists didn’t show up. “The disorganization consumed me,” one attendee wrote. Headliner Blink 182 canceled on Thursday. The gourmet food turned out to be cafeteria-level or worse. The bar had no beer. The security lockers had no locks. And the “modern geodesic domes” and “luxury tents” were soggy, wet disaster-relief tents.

Olivia Bannock/Twitter

In fact, the only real headliners seemed to be a cadre of beach pigs that showed up repeatedly, one frustrated attendee reports.

As guests arrived, assessed the damage, and quickly left again in droves (or retreated nearby), the overwhelmed Exuma authorities delayed some outgoing flights for hours, reportedly locking in some frustrated travelers trying to return to their destinations.

Meanwhile, the official Fyre Fest organization steadily melted down over the course of Thursday, ultimately canceling all incoming flights to the festival due to “overcapacity” on the island — meaning that some delayed flights into the Bahamas were halted literally on the runway.

The entire festival was ultimately canceled on Friday amid mounting ridicule — or rather, “fully postponed.”

For social media gawkers, Fyre Fest is a dream come true

Onlookers have almost universally greeted the Fyre Fest fiasco as a hilarious morality tale. It’s a perfect storm of scorn, featuring rich millennials, bad investments, and marketing schemes gone haywire in a kind of international tourist comeuppance.

And granted, some attendees contribute to this narrative without even trying:

However, other attendees have cautioned that things aren’t that simple, and that the fest-goers who will be most hurt by Fyre Fest were the ones who don’t fit the stereotype.

But for most internet spectators, the event has turned into an opportunity to bask in the schadenfreude of seeing the proverbial “rich kids of Instagram” get duped.

The manner in which the foolish were lured to their doom is also too mythical to go without commentary.

Many have compared the scene to 2014’s notorious geek festival gone wrong, Dashcon, which infamously offered duped fans “an extra hour in the ball pit” to make amends for a massively botched convention:

But mostly, people just want to laugh at the gullible and use Ja Rule as a symbol of class tension:

In reality, Ja Rule appears to have been nowhere on the grounds at the fest, though he eventually did apologize, vaguely, by insisting none of it was his fault:

Meanwhile, the Bahaman Ministry of Tourism has issued an official statement declaring that it was “disappointed” visitors to Exuma had such a terrible time.

Oh well: Maybe Fyre Fest 2018 will be a different story.

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