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Are Holograms a Dead Celebrity’s Best Friend?

Technology allows Tupac and Marilyn to grace the stage once again, but with what consequences?

Elvis Presley is alive. He’s standing next to Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Monroe, waiting to take the stage thanks to the wonder of technology. It’s really just smoke and mirrors – literally.  

In April, a hologram of the late Shakur joined his friends, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, onstage at Coachella. The crowd was stunned at how real the performance seemed, despite Shakur having met his demise in 1996 after being gunned down in Las Vegas by unknown assailants. As the conjured Shakur performed, it seemed almost a sign that the End of Days was upon us. At the very least it seemed to confirm every gangster conspiracy theorist’s sneaking suspicion that Shakur is still alive.

Concert attendees discovered later Shakur had been brought back as a hologram by tech company AV Concepts. While conspiracy theorists may be clinging to their ideas, the rest of the public was amazed at the image’s authenticity. For the briefest of moments, Tupac lived again.

Last week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that company Digicon Media is planning to bring back iconic blonde Monroe in “Virtual Marilyn Live – A Musical Celebration of the Birth of the Pop Icon.”

While fans of Monroe may want to send love letters to Digicon Media and AV Concepts, there are a few people who may not be excited about the late bombshell’s return. Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty may be among the latter. Why watch their series, Smash, revolving around the making of a Broadway musical about Monroe when you can actually watch the real deal perform “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”?

The same goes for impersonators. Boy, if you think it’s bad that thousands of teachers will be on unemployment come July, just wait until Monroe, Presley and Michael Jackson impersonators get in line.

Perhaps most affected by our departed stars’ return will be today’s celebrities. How will we ever find the next Elvis if the original guy is still putting on concerts in Madison Square Garden?

One of the things my husband and I sometimes argue about is our taste in music. He insists most music after the ‘90s isn’t worth his time. I, on the other hand, enjoy giving new music a chance. Sure, sometimes you get a Rebecca Black, but finding an Adele makes grinding your teeth during “Friday” worth it.

As a Whitney Houston fan, I understand the desire to see a favorite performer walk across the stage again. Even better, the Houston hologram would be healthy, unlike the person, who struggled with substance abuse and personal demons.

But there’s something about the person, demons and all, that brings the pain behind the lyrics to life. When Houston sang, “One Moment in Time,” you really felt her. It wasn’t a request – it was a passionate demand.

A holographic Houston, although imbued with the singer’s likeness and voice, would lack the depth that made her such a phenomenon.

And once we start reviving our dead celebrities, what’s to stop us from reviving living celebrities who aren’t necessarily in their prime? Britney Spears would never have had to get her life back on track – we could just produce a holographic version to beg us for “one more time.”

If you think that’s bad, just wait until performers start getting really lazy. Forget lip-syncing scandals. What happens when Saturday Night Live viewers discover [insert pop tart name here] was actually sunning on the beach in Rio during her flawless performance?

There’s something to be said about allowing our dead to rest in peace. Conjuring their visages for “live” performances, while well intentioned, is doing a disservice to the amazing performers they were in life.

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