Is Burning Man Supposed To Be Fun Or What?

An investigation.

If you have seen swirling clouds of dust on your Instagram feed resembling a post-apocalyptic hellscape, that was probably Burning Man. Or maybe it was an anxiety dream which combined the terrors of social media and the end of the world. It was probably Burning Man, though.

"What even is Burning Man?" you may be asking yourself. Or, "Is Burning Man supposed to be fun?"

The answers to both of those questions are: kind of unclear!

Katy Perry, using a Seqway to transport herself through your worst nightmare.

Katy Perry, using a Seqway to transport herself through your worst nightmare.

Katy Perry / Instagram

There is the combination of art and architecture that elevates the festival to a highbrow realm above extended raves like the the Electric Daisy Carnival and Coachella. But mostly, it seems like 70,000-plus people paying at least $900 to gather on inhospitable terrain and do drugs.

Here "inhospitable" means "literally dangerous, though." The official survival guide for braving the temporary metropolis of Black Rock City begins with the following warning:

The desert is governed by physical laws that cannot be ignored. You are responsible for your own survival, safety, comfort, and well-being, and for ensuring you Leave No Trace.

Which, okay, fine, that's a little dramatic-sounding, but could also just be a description of life on earth, considering that there is gravity and we all try to survive but die eventually either way.

Except Burning Man also includes a system of bartering for supplies in a realm where the exchange of money is forbidden and there are no showers. Additionally, swarms of bugs, undercover FBI agents and so many white people that the founder addressed the lack of diversity saying (pretty much) that black people don't like camping, because slavery.

Here, the question remains: "Wait, what?"

People laying on the ground and trying to figure out why they came to Burning Man, probably.

People laying on the ground and trying to figure out why they came to Burning Man, probably.

HECTOR MATA via Getty Images

It all seems very unpleasant. Still, the most compelling part of Burning Man in 2015 is that it is now supposedly being "ruined" by the likes of Silicon Valley CEOs and Katy Perry. It's counterintuitive to think any place already swarming with the pestilence of law enforcement and also literal pestilence could be made worse in any way. But here we are!

There were already claims last year that the festival had jumped the shark. Black Rock manager Harley Dubois responded saying, "Our world keeps changing, and our event is going to keep changing because our world is changing."

True point. The only constant is change. Only here, it seems like the world is changing in the sense that super-privileged people are ruining an already mostly white-people drug festival by bringing in WiFi and basic amenities.

Ugh, ugh, ugh, can't the vegans just sit in traffic, wear weird outfits and choke on dust in peace? We have strayed so far from the pure and confusing intentions of Larry Harvey actually burning a man on a beach. The march of time has destroyed that beautiful simplicity with wealth and technological developments and children.



HECTOR MATA via Getty Images

Alas, the idea that "filthy desert art events are really not what they used to be" unfortunately remains peak hipsterism. It's like we all want to be legit hippies so badly, and it sucks because we can't, because we have cell phones and basic knowledge of both STDs and the side effects of narcotics. For a short time, the community of Black Rock City allowed some of us to escape that reality, to be subsumed by dirt and fires, to pretend it wasn't true.

In conclusion, Burning Man was never fun and is even less fun now. Solutions to this non-problem include building a time machine to travel back to the year 1986 or just getting really high and going to a museum. At least museums have toilets.

The Huffington Post reached out to Katy Perry to double-check whether Burning Man is even supposed to be fun in the first place. She has yet to respond.

Middlebrow is a recap of the week in entertainment, celebrity and television news that provides a comprehensive look at the state of pop culture. From the rock bottom to highfalutin, Middlebrow is your accessible guidebook to the world of entertainment. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca

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