Dueling Documentaries

Millennials aren't the enemy

i.

This week dueling documentaries about the Fyre Festival were released by Netflix and Hulu, which says a lot about how people consume the pain of others. I enjoyed Hulu’s Fyre Fraud better Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Music Festival That Never Was.)

ii.

The Fyre Festival was schadenfreude wrapped into a burrito of second-hand panic attack. I am sleepless the night before I have to arrange a mini-conference. To have thousands of people come and not be ready? This was out of sheer narcissism, denial, or the workings of a fraud genius. Who gets to relax in the protection of federal prison for six years.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to ride up in those buses and see those tents, knowing that there’s no place to sleep, no security, no running water, no toilets. Knowing that it is ripe for crime, sexual assault, and theft. Buying a ticket for a luxury music fest does not deserve that punishment.

iii.

The joke at the time was that these “millennials” were stupid enough to spend thousands of dollars on a music festival advertised on Instagram, and that we shouldn’t feel sorry for them for being subjected to a nightmare without food, running water, or protection. Isn’t that a bit unimaginative? Do we really wish such cruelty about people who chose to spend their money on something that was supposed to a respite from their stressful, alienated lives? “Millennials” are not to blame. The generations before them created their failure. Let’s even get more basic: the youngest millennials are in their thirties now. The word has lost all meaning.

iv.

The rich are demonized, as many should be.  Fantasies of richness are conflicted; we despise the rich so much that we feel that they are doing “being rich” wrong. It’s as if the fantasy of being rich is one that includes fighting that richness, living in austere circumstances and denying any of it. We yearn to be rich for the very fact that we can indulge in something that (appears) to satisfy needs. I’m not defending the rich; we can, as a public giving criticism, simultaneously show compassion and be critical of what is being consumed.

The people who deserve scorn, of course, are Billy McFarland and Grant and everyone at Fuck Jerry media, who plead “just following orders.” The work environment of these venture capitalists is beyond repair and creates an environment where there is only a losing/winning bifurcation and emotions are feminized and punished.

v.

The simulated world created by social media is both a wonderful instrument and a weapon. The offstage production of it was very known, but the knowledge of its fake veneer didn’t prevent anyone from buying into it. Critics of postmodernism warn that we’re fucked when we know our lives are a simulation, but we just don’t care anymore.

vi.

We seem to be so focused and “fascinated” by these criminal masterminds that we forget about the workers and day laborers on the Bahamas that were exploited, stolen, and discarded. They can’t file lawsuits. They will never recover. It’s not worth measuring WHO suffered the worst, but not even acknowledging the labor, emotional and physical, of nonwhite bodies is a something that the Netflix documentary did well.


What is this? A semi-regular newsletter about life in graduate school. Do you like it? Great. Please share it widely. This will always be free, but you can become a premium subscriber to feed my sense of self worth:

Subscribe - first month FREE

My twitter / My instagram / my book / my Goodreads

All content reflects my individual views and is not associated with any university, department, faculty, or students. Names and situations mentioned have been changed.