So Cool? Or So Creepy?

By Mike Corbett This past Sunday, at the Billboard Music Awards, Michael Jackson performed on stage for the first time since his death in 2009. You may find yourself asking how that’s possible, and understandably so. Did he fake his own death, was he resurrected via the kind of voodoo blood ritual he allegedly used to curse Stephen Spielberg in early 90’s, or was the King of Pop so transcendent that the laws of life and death that govern our universe simply don’t apply to him? The answer is far simpler, but no less unnerving; Michael Jackson was brought back to life as a hologram.

Holographic Michael Jackson (Holo-Jacko?) took the stage with a crew of real back up dancers and performed a previously unreleased song “Slave to the Rhythm” from his forthcoming posthumous album “Xscape.” The performance generated mixed reviews; Jackson’s fans seemed to love it and instantly demanded a tour, while more objective folks described it with words like “uncomfortable” and “creepy, cynical and underwhelming.” For me, underwhelming is the most accurate description. As far as I could tell, the only difference between watching the hologram and watching a video of an old Michael Jackson performance was his appearance.

Through the magic of computer generated imagery, Jackson was created with the look he always seemed to be striving for, before he was ruined by too many plastic surgeries. It was fine; it worked, but if you’re going to start taking artistic liberties with his appearance, why reign in the performance? Michael Jackson was a man who used music videos to transform himself into panthers, zombies and some more of magic dust in the weird Egyptian themed video featuring Eddie Murphy and Magic Johnson. He sailed with kids in flying boats, erected giant statues of himself and did that cool leaning move in Smooth Criminal. This was not a man who, when presented with the chance to create a holographic version of himself, would simply choose to mimic himself. He should have turned into a dragon or danced with a holographic version of Bubbles, something bold and imaginative!

Instead, the creators of Holographic Michael Jackson opted for the safe route. Perhaps they learned from the backlash Guitar Hero faced when they created a virtual Kurt Cobain, who players could have perform songs by Bon Jovi, Billy Idol and Public Enemy.   If that sounds amazing, I assure you, it is:


Of course, Nirvana fans, and Courtney Love, all hated the idea, and it was quickly scrapped. Instead, Cobain was locked into only performing Nirvana songs, the same thing they could watch on YouTube a thousand times over. As with Holographic Michael Jackson, these decisions were made in the name of good taste and in an effort to honor the performer’s legacy.  It’s a very important distinction to make. When you’re making holograms of the deceased, created solely for the purpose to promoting albums or video games, you need to be sure you’re doing it tastefully.   You really don’t want that CGI puppet you made tarnishing someone’s legacy.

Mike Corbett is a Level 2 SketchWriting Student at the DCH Training Center and an intern for the DCH blog. You can read more of Mike's comedy stylings HERE.