The Tupac Hologram Is Terrifying and Distasteful. Let's Stop This Madness Now.
On Sunday, April 15, 2012, the world officially entered science fiction-land. Sure, iPods are pretty futuristic, GPS is spy magic from space, and we all have stupidly intelligent phones now, but nothing has felt quite as much like living in a Buck Rogers episode than when Tupac got resurrected in hologram form at Coachella.
By now, you've all seen it. And it's pretty shocking on a number of levels. The first time you see that thing in action, your brain starts spewing questions: How are they doing this? Should they be doing this? Is this a joke? Was Tupac's waist really that tiny? Is he really still alive, like that crazy bitch from the bar keeps insisting? But, after the shock of the spectacle is over and Dr Dre has announced that he wants to tour with this thing (we guess you don't spend half a million dollars creating something, only to use it once), the only thing we should all be feeling is horror.
There are so many ways in which this can all go horribly wrong, it's hard to know where to begin. Tupac's mother approved the use of the hologram before the performance, and was reportedly "thrilled" to see her son in action again, but is this really in the best taste? There is something a teeny bit ghoulish about watching a guy that died 16 years ago "performing" at one of the country's biggest festivals.
And since that it's been done once, artists all over the world would be advised to seek legal council now if they're to prevent their image being used like this after their own death. There has to be something a little bit scary about the prospect of being reanimated after you've died, by someone else, for public amusement, without your personal guidance about how you want to appear. It was bad enough when Kurt Cobain got stuck in that godawful Guitar Hero game -- think of what could be done with him now if someone offers Courtney Love enough money.
And think what Vegas is going to do with this. Cirque du Soleil already has a Beatles show -- imagine if they could do one with Beatles holograms. John Lennon flying through the air with the greatest of ease! It'd be horrific. What if artists didn't have to do residencies anymore and just allowed hologram versions of themselves to do it? It's easier, right? And really, Celine Dion is already like an artificially created human being -- how different would it be?
Well, very, actually (even for ol' robot face, Celine). And this is where the problem really starts. Watching a hologram is never, ever going to be like watching the real thing. Truthfully, technical trickery aside, you might as well be watching a music video or footage from a live show. The very joy of concerts and shows is seeing the artist in person, hearing them in their live form (that's live, as in a-live, as in not dead and resurrected), and listening to what they really sound like in person and up close and between songs, when they address the audience. Nobody needs to see a cleaned up rendition of Amy Winehouse, reflected out from a stage, curse words erased, eyeliner un-smudged, soul removed (we hope you're listening, Mitch Winehouse).
Resurrecting dead musicians on this level is not a trend to be embraced. The ticket-buying public should be wary too, since buying into this too much too soon could prompt entire hologram tours for artists that are still living, but want to be in two places at once. Since live music is where so many artists make most of their revenue these days, think of what a hologram could do to boost sales. The only time we'd want to see this kind of use of hologram technology is if Lady Gaga can make one and perform with herself. Because she'd do it really well and it would just enhance her already-elaborate stage show. (Okay, okay, Madonna, you can have one as well). But this is a slippery slope and we're peering over the edge of the cliff right now -- let's turn back while we still can.
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