The Infamous Fyre Festival Meme Is Actually Sexual Harassment At Its Most Insidious

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
For all intents and purposes, Hulu and Netflix's competing Fyre Fest documentaries are the same. However, while Hulu managed to land creator Billy McFarland as a talking head throughout the feature, Netflix got Andy King, and ended up revealing a much darker evil about the fiasco that's currently being softened by Twitter memes.
King helped produce the 2017 Fyre Festival and was McFarland's right-hand man. According to Netflix's documentary, McFarland once famously asked King to "take one big thing for the team." When the festival was slammed with a $175,000 fee that prompted Bahamian customs to hold their incoming Evian water supply hostage, McFarland asked King to "suck dick to fix this water problem."
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“I literally drove home, took a shower, I drank some mouthwash," King explains in the doc. "I got into my car to drive across the island to take one for the team. And I got to [the customs officer’s] office fully prepared to suck his dick."
Luckily, in the end, King did not have to do this, instead working out an agreement with the customs officer that involved everyone keeping their clothes on. However, the story itself, particularly the lengths King was willing to go to in an attempt to save the festival, has inspired a slew of memes.
The memes got so popular that Netflix sat down with King to talk about his viral fame, posting an interview with the caption, "Andy King has seen all of your FYRE Fest memes — and he loves them!"
“I’m blown away with the response of the documentary," King says in the interview, admitting that he doesn't use social media and had to have the very concept of a meme explained to him. "I’m now a noun, a verb, an adjective."
Not that Fyre Fest, of all things, should be expected to have any kind of moral standard, but that doesn't change the fact that what happened to King was not a funny meme-able moment — it was an example of possible sexual harassment. Effectively, King was instructed by his employer to perform a sexual favor to benefit the company.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment." King's experience checks almost all the boxes.
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By including this anecdote, Netflix brought to light another offense committed by the disastrous festival. But the memes in response to the moment make light of a situation that certainly wouldn't have the same treatment if King had been a woman, and it doesn't help that Netflix fueled this attitude with its lighthearted response.
Obviously, it's up to King whether or not he feels he is a victim. He has yet to address this perspective, but Twitter is beginning to wake up to it.
The Fyre Festival may have normalized horrific behavior — from the treatment of the guests to, most egregiously, the workers of Exuma — but that doesn't mean we have to accept it.
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