The 10th annual Rock the Bells lineup is out, and Pitchfork reveals there will be “original virtual performances” by the late Eazy-E, with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and the equally late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, with the Wu-Tang Clan.
Holograms, yo! That got us thinking about the nature of holograms and performances from beyond the grave, so flash back with us to former HyperVocal managing editor Cooper Fleishman’s totally-nailed-it rant after Tupac’s Coachella appearance in April 2012.
Tupac’s posthumous appearance in Snoop Dogg’s Coachella set wasn’t the result of any newfangled, expensive CGI, but a nifty and quite simple set of 19th-century optical tricks using a mirror and a screen.
Here’s how it worked:
It took just a few light tricks for the deceased rapper to reenter the music world. It’s almost disturbingly simple. Because only the most futuristic, undiscovered Tony Stark razzmatazz ought to be capable of bringing a legend back onstage, right? If it’s so easy, why has it taken so long for someone like Tupac to reappear?
America needs Hologram Tupac. We need him because it’s a shitty time to be alive right now. We need his serenity and his wisdom and his gracefulness and we need him to sing us “Changes” and “Keep Ya Head Up” when we’re down. Hologram Tupac made a splash of this caliber because we’ve realized the front man of 2012 died in 1996.
And it’s comforting — but also a little terrifying — that a screen and a mirror are all that’s needed to bring back a star like Shakur. Because if you can recreate a legend, you can just as easily create one, too.
A pop star named Aimi Eguchi is the newest addition to insanely popular Japanese singing group AKB48. She’s cute and bubbly and has a nice voice and no negative qualities whatsoever. It’s like she was made to be a teen idol. The thing is, she literally was made to be a teen idol. She’s not a real person, but a CGI composite. She’s an amalgam of everything a pop star should be, and nothing more.
Human celebrities require some maintenance, precisely because they’re human. They need agents and coaches and PR people and drivers and lots of different things to accommodate real human people and clean up their messes when they disappoint their fans, which they inevitably will, because they’re human beings and are living a life for themselves, not for us. How selfish!
CGI Vocaloid stars don’t. They’re perfect. They just need an effects team, a designer, choreographer, voice talent and a record label to control them. It’s way easier — and foolproof. They’re everything we fans want them to be. We can project onto them whatever it is we like in a pop star.
And Hologram Tupac is no exception. There’s no risk of him getting shot and killed and breaking our hearts again. There’s no risk of a bad performance or a feud with an East Coast crew or even a weird nose ring or any human fault whatsoever. The best we can hope for is a system malfunction or an audio-video delay when Hologram Tupac goes on tour.
Hologram Tupac isn’t about Tupac at all. He’s about the masses of fans who miss him. He’s for us. He is us. It’s comforting to have him back, but it’s also a little terrifying to realize the idol you love is a hollow shell that you fill with a nostalgia so strong that it dispenses with the need for living, breathing, failure-prone human beings.
But at least the video mashups will be great.