Last month’s Coachella music festival made serious headlines and blew minds when Snoop Dogg took to the stage and performed a few songs with a hologram of 2Pac, the iconic rapper who was killed in a shooting in 1996. The Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg-commissioned hologram (which isn’t actually a hologram, but a 2D mirrored projection) was met with awe and amazement, and many spectators commented on the uncanny realism of the hologram and the way it captured 2Pac’s movements and mannerisms so accurately. After the success of the performance, there were rumors floating around that Dre and Snoop planned to take the 2Pac hologram on tour with them (Dre has since denied that the hologram was created for a tour, but didn’t rule out the possibility of a tour in the future), and Michael Jackson’s brother Jackie has expressed an interest in a Michael hologram for an upcoming Jackson 5 reunion tour.
All of this hologram talk troubles me. While I can’t deny that the hologram was definitely a feat of modern technology and that it was incredibly life-like and entertaining in a certain way, it was also kind of creepy. It was like seeing a ghost, and I didn’t even know 2Pac. I keep wondering what it was like for Snoop to perform with the hologram, a technological creation that so closely resembles his friend (who, it seems worth reiterating, didn’t just die but was murdered, and whose murder was never solved) but isn’t his friend. I guess I can’t speak for Snoop, but I feel like that would be a really emotionally heavy experience.
Even more troubling than that is the language that has consistently been used to describe the hologram: it seems like almost every headline I’ve seen about the performance alludes to the “resurrection” of 2Pac. Okay, I know 2Pac wasn’t literally resurrected, but the use of that word, with all of its divine connotations, serves to put technology on a God-like level, capable of reversing or forestalling death in a way that is outside of the realm of human possibility. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but that type of thinking strikes me as dangerous and T3: Rise of the Machines-status creepy.
Furthermore, the possibility of other deceased musicians being “resurrected” via hologram seems in poor taste to me. I can understand that the hologram’s singular performance with Snoop fifteen years after 2Pac’s death is symbolic, but symbolism loses its potency when it becomes a trend, when holograms are popping up all over the place or when they go on tour. It appears a means of capitalizing on a performer’s death rather than a way to memorialize and honor their life and art, and to me, that seems cheap.
What did you think of the 2Pac hologram? Would you be creeped out if more dead musicians started appearing as holograms at live performances?