Cosmic Slop #33: The Whitney Houston hologram is abhorrent

By Shaun Ponsonby
Thu 17 September, 2015

Admitting that he wouldn’t even go to see the real Whitney Houston, Shaun Ponsonby is still uneasy about the proposed touring hologram.

Originally published on Getintothis

We’re told it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead.

I don’t quite buy that. Where do we draw the line? Hitler is dead, should we not speak ill of him? Of course we should. He’s Hitler. To say he was a wanker would be putting it incredibly mildly. Does it mean we airbrush over people’s faults? No, our faults are what make us so wonderfully human. Do we just assume everything that person did in their lifetime was wonderful, warm and fuzzy? Because there’s being optimistic, and there’s being downright delusional. I don’t know the rules on this.

Point is I always thought Whitney Houston sucked. Like, really, really sucked. And before she died I got a lot less contentious looks for saying so. Sure, she was a great vocalist, though her records tended to be surprisingly soulless. She could have been so much more. I think that’s why I dislike her so much as an artist. I see her as a singer of extraordinary technical abilities who squandered her talent on hugely subpar material. That horrible 80s cheese. Ugh. I think pretty much anyone could have had hits with some of those songs in her blockbuster late-80s period. As material on its own terms, it’s in no way spectacular or atypical of a lot of other stuff in that era.

So, we’ve pretty much confirmed that I don’t like Whitney Houston.

However, I still find the idea of a touring hologram of Whitney Houston fucking abhorrent to her memory. Even more than how all the crack was abhorrent to her carefully crafted public image.

Oh, yeah…this is a thing that is happening. Houston’s sister-in-law and president of her estate revealed the plans this week. She said it will be “a great opportunity for her fans to see a reinvention of one the most celebrated female artists in history and to continue a legacy of performances that will not be forgotten in years to come.”

Well…I would question that Whitney is one of the most celebrated artists so much as one of the most celebrated vocalists, but I guess that’s being pedantic, and raises a helluva lot of other questions about what really makes you an artist. Cosmic Slop doesn’t have enough allocated bandwidth to answer that one.

Anyhow, it’s nice to see that they are selflessly resurrecting the sadly departed Whitney Houston for the fans, as opposed to treating the deceased mother like the commercial commodity she’d been treated like since the day she was signed. Yeah, they’re not doing this to milk the almighty cash cow that they own the rights to. They’re doing this because they conducted some extensive research amongst Whitters’ fans and can scientifically back-up that an overwhelming majority of them want to see their heroine artificially exhumed to sing and dance for their amusement, as opposed to – I dunno – letting her rest in peace or something.

I’ve been dreading this day ever since that hologram of Tupac Shakur showed up with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg at Coachella in 2012. It’s been happening slowly since then. Every year it seems a few more dead people are brought back to perform for us. I mean, why should being dead stop you from earning money for people who probably ripped you off while you were alive? Get back to work you lazy git. If you worked in life, you can bloody well work in death.

Back when that Tupac atrocity happened, one of the guys behind it, Alki David (or Alcoholic David, to give him his full name), claimed to have bought rights to the likenesses of Buddy Holly, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and NWA‘s Eazy-E, along with a host of living actors and musicians.

At a push – and I mean a major push – I can understand the interest from a certain kind of awful, awful person in seeing a hologram of someone who’s no longer with us perform…but living actors and musicians? What’s that about? How is it even possible to buy a living human being’s likeness? I wasn’t aware they were up for sale.

Are we suggesting that there will come a day when Beyonce can’t be arsed going on stage so sends a hologram instead? Think of all the money they could make by having Beyonce simultaneously play in about three different venues on different continents.

David is behind the creepy Houston resurrection too. He said; “The opportunity to help share her spectacular gifts with the world again is exactly what I hoped for when I built the hologram business.” Except with no new performances, for obvious reasons, you’ll be working from existing footage. So you’re not “sharing her spectacular gifts with the world again”, you’re putting a fancy DVD on.

Would such a venture be a commercial success? I hope not. I find it morally repugnant.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Over the last couple of years there have been simulated zombie-esque performances from Michael Jackson, Liberace and Dusty Springfield, with David promising a “performance” from “Billie Holiday” at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre.

But, why stop there, Alki? Abraham Lincoln hasn’t ruled America for a long time, why not get him to run against Trump? It’s been centuries since Genghis Khan devoured people, why not bring him back so we can witness the magic of Genghis Khan’s Mongolian rule? You could bring him back in a special show where he duets with Chaka Khan. Imagine it! The world’s two most famous Khans together at last! They could do a duet of I Feel For You.

Over the years I’ve learned (and record company executives never seem to) that you should never assume that anything is a fad. I hope this one is, but conventional wisdom tells me that this bullshit is here to stay.



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