What do a highly advertised first-class musical festival that never happened and a game-changing medical start-up company have in common?
Well, felonies for one big thing.
Let’s start with Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened (Netflix) since that’s slightly more fun even if it does say some unpleasant things about our current culture. Like apparently all you have to do to get people to hand you money is have a bunch of models post pictures of themselves on a beach somewhere?
Why am I not surprised?
Fyre was like watching a train wreck that was kind of fun and I got to be honest I’m not sorry about the dopes on the beach. They went Lord of the Flies with such speed that I know to avoid the influencers should shit ever really hit the fan.
Other than the blatant false advertising that was going on I did spend some of the movie wondering if this was something that just got out of control. If Billy McFarland really believed he could pull this off. And I got to tell you the biggest ass in this documentary was the shit head who bragged about how he and his friends didn’t want neighbors so they went about destroying the tents and the mattresses.
Sums it up right there let’s take a bad situation and make it shitty for other people and then brag about it.
Whatever I might have thought about those dumb shits McFarland did hurt the numerous people on the island who worked to bring what they could together as they haven’t been paid and what he does after the Fyre Festival falls apart is so utterly blatant that I was shocked and he makes sure to get it all on camera.
I also couldn’t decide how serious the guy who said he would have given some official head to get what they needed was. I mean he seemed serious as shit but he’s getting his own show and that itself says something about our culture right there.
And then we travel over to the “next Steve Jobs,” one Elizabeth Holmes who wanted to change the medical profession as we know it. Only she wanted to do it without doing any of the work and showed such a callous disregard for actual patients, and well, anyone that disagreed with her or got in the way that I lean toward being okay with the book calling her a sociopath.
Holmes basically said she had created a machine that could be used in homes and test blood with just a prick of the finger. She surrounded herself with powerful yes men on the board and lied her way into billions of dollars all the while faking test results, misinformation left and right, outright lies with absolutely no regard for the people who would be at the mercy of her machine.
She also had no regard for hearing the word no or even not yet Elizabeth threatening and destroying anyone who got in her way.
This book was a little boring until they get to the journalistic investigation and the real unraveling of the company and then it becomes maddening. You can see the work culture that she put into place or the cultures within other companies that bought what she was selling because they wanted to ride the wave and not be left behind. That I understood.
The board which included George Schulz and Henry Kissinger throughout the years let her do what she wanted. Schulz even took her side over his own grandson who wound up as one of the whistle-blowers and I seriously question the ethics of “super lawyer” David Boies who was also on the board and had a monetary stake but due to the lawsuits would have known exactly what was going on or at least what was being accused and well, shady legal dealings would be the kindest thing I would say.
There was also only laudatory press for years as well who often ignored questions on Theranos because hers was a story that was too good to destroy.
The writer does point out that faking it until you make it is common in Silicon Valley and businesses like apps or Uber but hers was medical and she did not give a damn. Maybe she’s not a sociopath but a spoiled little girl who lived in a dream world? Who knows? Who really cares when it comes down to it?
Elizabeth Holmes and Billy McFarland are two fascinating, if entirely unlikable people, whose stories really reflect as much about our society and they do themselves. Culturally, corporately, a desire to believe without asking questions, the illusions created on-line, the fallibility of the press, our need to be faster, better, best on top of the world and have everyone know it. Not just to win but to beat everyone else down. People’s ability to completely forget there are other people in the world and maybe we shouldn’t screw everyone over in our race to get to the top.
I’d recommend them both even if they were hard to stomach at times.
Bad Blood: B
Fyre Festival: The Greatest Party that Never Was: A