Cool it With the Dead People Holograms Already

By Kate Knibbs on at

Dead 1970s comedians Andy Kaufman and Redd Foxx are going on tour this year. This is NOT a classic Weekend at Bernie’s scenario. Kaufman and Foxx are touring in hologram format.

A company called Hologram USA will use recordings of the comedians’ famous bits in a show where visual recreations of Foxx and Kaufman perform.

Dead celebrity holograms are creepy, but that’s not why they should go away forever. What sucks about these holograms (which aren’t actually holograms) is how much of a fuck you they are to the people they supposedly honour. Dead celebrity holograms are digitised corpse puppetry.

These famous dead people were professional performers. They cared about what they did on stage. These holograms are performances they did not create, approve, or control in any way.

With Foxx and Kaufman, the tour isn’t a 3D projection of a videotaped performance. The company is creating an original performance by rearranging bits from different and adding in biography, and billing it as the closest way to see what it was like for these guys to perform. Uh, no. This is the closest way to see what it would be like if it was legal to preserve someone’s corpse and turn it into a puppet and make a show out of it.

Other dead celebrities have been re-animated via pseudo-holographic trickery, like Tupac, Elvis, and Michael Jackson. As with the upcoming Redd and Foxx tour, when Jackson got hologram’d, it wasn’t a simple projection of a recording—instead, choreographers came up with a new dance by incorporating some of Jackson’s famous moves into a new routine.

That’s not the closest thing to seeing what it was like at a Michael Jackson concert. That’s what it a Michael Jackson concert would be like if he was remote-controlled, brain dead, all agency fully stripped.