How to ruin a perfectly good hologram of Tupac Shakur

This is how it's done, suckers

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GateHouse — Despite growing up in a reasonably comfortable Indiana suburb, I never really got into the music of Tupac Shakur. This put me in direct conflict with my younger brother, Dave; while I would spend my formative Camelot Music-stalking time making important purchasing decisions about Tesla and the “Wayne’s World” soundtrack and, God help me, that Styx album with “Show Me The Way” on it (I KNOW, I ALREADY KNOW), Dave was able to leverage his good grades and positive attitude, as well as our parents’ divorce, into permission to buy pretty much anything with a parental advisory sticker and an Intro on it between the years 1991-1994.

I bring this up because none of the girl-pantsed losers I listened to in high school would ever remotely be considered for immortalization in hologram form; you cannot be baked enough to clamor for an all-projection version of Tesla’s “Five Man Acoustical Jam,” which I owned in both CD and cassette form and which may be an inaccurate reference, as I’m pretty sure no one is Tesla has died yet. I should probably fact-check this point before emailing this column to my editors, but Siri is all the way downstairs. Hang on. “SIRI! CAN YOU COME UP HERE AND ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT TESLA?” Ugh, nothing. These phones are so buggy.

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbrFmPBV0Y]

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Anyway, Tupac, as you likely saw, was onstage twice in the past two weeks, performing at the sprawling and malodorous Coachella Music Festival with former/current? collaborators Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Tupac’s performance, by all accounts, was a powerful testament to his perseverance and dedication, especially considering his death in 1996. Because this was Tupac The Hologram, or, more accurately, a bit of stage sleight-of-hand involving mirrors and projection that’s been around (in concept form, at least) since the mid-1800s, much like Tesla.

The Tupac-hologram effect, if you don’t have the Internet and haven’t seen it, is insane. It’s insane. It’s jarring and uncanny and slyly references the Tupac-isn’t-dead conspiracy and makes you wonder why “The Polar Express” doesn’t look this good and also makes you briefly wonder if you have ever been sure that anything in your life is truly real.

Tupac was resurrected by a company called Digital Domain Media Group, they handle special effects and such. Projection was provided by a company called AV Concepts, using a technique that dates back to 1862 (fact), during a production of “Jersey Boys” (not a fact).

Right, so, OK, company creates unsettlingly lifelike image of dead rapper, pairs him with aging marijuana aficionado for approval of affluent tweeting hippies using Civil War-era mirror technology, right? OK so here’s where it gets weird.

AV Concepts president Nick Smith told the Wall Street Journal that though this is the first performance by a dead guy they’ve put on the technology has been used to bring back others. And here I will pause to let you think about the possibilities: great thinkers, artists, political minds, authors, historical figures who could be used to communicate great insight into the modern world. Sooooo who did they go with?

“We’ve brought past CEOs and things that like that back to life,” Smith told the newspaper, providing no specifics, because of non-disclosure agreements.

This, of course, brings up a number of moral and ethical quandaries. What sort of lines are blurred, smudged over or crossed entirely by such technology? Who determines how far such a thing can go? And WHY ARE YOU USING THIS TECHNOLOGY FOR THE WORST THING EVER? REALLY? You can BRING THE DEAD BACK TO LIFE ON STAGE and you’re not gonna go with like Abe Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. but the GUY FROM CITIBANK? Let me ask you this, when you bring CEOs back to life CAN WE THROW THINGS AT THEM OR GET HOLOGRAM BAILOUT MONEY BACK?

OK first of all a number of things need to happen here: We’re gonna need to know what “past CEOs” have been brought back to life, so we can prevent those companies from ever holding another meeting again, because seriously this is like discovering your space shuttle works and using it to go to Chili’s. (Note to young readers: the “Space Shuttle” was a vehicle we used in the late 1900s for “human discovery and exploration,” we ran out of money for it in 2011 because everyone got upset about birth control.)

Also I think some investigation into the “things like that” would be warranted; if we’ve learned anything from Wall Street in the past few years, it might be GET SPECIFICS FROM THESE PEOPLE What is the “things like that” in regards to past CEOs? Past human resources coordinators? Floating heads in jars? Do you have anything about Steve Jobs you want to tell us BECAUSE NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME, as I’m still waiting for my iPhone to walk up the stairs.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

8 responses to “How to ruin a perfectly good hologram of Tupac Shakur

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