If you’re like me you’ve heard the name “Tupac” dozens of times, and always assumed it was some sort of political action committee. It turns out that Tupac is actually the name of a gangsta-cum-rapper, who may or may not have died in 1996. There is some debate as to whether or not he actually bit the dust, or is simply laying low for the statute of limitations to expire from a time he whacked a guy. Much like Elvis or Kevin Costner.
Regardless of whether or not Tupac really shuffled off this mortal coil, his likeness was resurrected to entertain people of poor taste in California over the weekend. By Snoop Dog. I don’t know much about Snoop Dog, but apparently he has impressive CGI skills, to the point of making holographic specters sing and dance. There’s a good deal about the world of rap I do not know, and will probably never bother to look into.
The original holographic celebrity is of course Obi Wan Kenobi. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s sagely Jedi master dies, but his apparition pops in and out on occasion to remind Luke to use the force and to collect a royalty check. This was only cinematic, though. If Obi Wan Kenobi really existed in holographic form, he would have presumably appeared to George Lucas to stop him from wrecking the prequels.
Japan is leading the pack in terms of holographic entertainment technology. They’ve been busy infusing holograms into live performances for years. For instance, AKB48, an all-girl group which wears Catholic school girl uniforms (as is required by law in Japan) and sports fifty-six members, at some point added a hologram as its fifty-seventh performer. Other outfits include weird-ass cartoon characters that wonder around on stage making bizarre noises.
America lags behind Japan in holographic technology. We still have plenty of singing robots, many of which are animatronic presidents performing at Disney World. But these robots are comparatively atavistic and unable to learn new pop songs. I recall seeing a stiff, uncoordinated Gerald Ford when I visited Disney World as a kid, and he didn’t sing or dance or anything. He just kept saying, “Listen, I’m not a robot and I’m visiting Disney World with my granddaughter and you need to find your parents” over and over again. I finally got him to sing “Blue” by Eiffel 65, but his rendition was terrible and his modified Charleston belayed a total lack of dance skills. Afterwards he started crying and saying “My life is a joke,” over and over again. What a crummy robot.
Thus, Hologram Tupac heralds a new and important phase in Western entertainment technology. Presently we’re squandering it on dead criminals like Tupac, but in a few years we might be able to put it to better use.
For instance, wouldn’t Saturday Night Live be improved if we incorporated holograms of its deceased greats into it? Imagine what writers could do with the hilarious, spectral embodiments of Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, John Belushi and Bill Murray. I realize that Bill Murray isn’t dead yet, but we could shoot him and then make a hologram of him interact with Phil Hartman. Then we would probably rename the show Saturday Night Dead for legal reasons. I would totally watch that.
It’s very popular in the music industry to die from drug overdoses or in a plane crash when you’re young. As a result, quite a few musicians top out in their twenties, leaving lesser performers to haunt Branson, Missouri for decades. With hologram technology we could bring a young, vibrant Freddy Mercury back from the dead, in addition to John Lennon, Buddy Holly and that overweight Hawaiian guy who played the ukulele.
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.