Like the man said. We’re living in a science fiction world. We have cell phones that can record, photograph and film anything we want. They can access the internet, make telephone calls, take pictures and movies, get on Facebook, send notes to ourselves, get the geographic coordinates of our location, and who knows what new function will be added next. At home we’ve become masters of time. We can watch live TV, record it, play it back later if we don’t have time to watch. Our cars have become electronic entertainment centers and have safety systems that communicate electronically with the home office.
And that’s just the background, the setting, for what was perhaps the most startling and yet inevitable high tech, science fiction development of all. On Sunday May 18, the Billboard Music Awards show had a “live” broadcast featuring the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. It wasn’t actually Michael. He’s dead and lying in his grave. What it was was a hologram of Michael, presented on a stage with actual living dancers. He sang a new song. Well, it wasn’t new. It was an old song that he recorded some years ago and was thought to be not good enough for inclusion on any of his albums. But the demand for Jackson material is always high. He still has his fans. So by means of a holographic image they rousted Michael from his grave and got him back on stage to do another number.
I won’t get into the questions of morality or even good taste that arise in connection with this event. The thing that struck me the hardest was the inevitability of it. It was bound to happen. And it will happen again. I predict this was just the first of what will become a media trend. Dead stars brought back to the screen and stage through the miracle of digital electronics. Stars like Michael Jackson are money making commodities, and now that it’s been done, get ready for a holographic Cavalcade of personalities from the past.
I can see A Christmas Special starring Elvis coming soon, with the Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper as guest stars. How about John Lennon in a New Years Rockin’ Eve special, with a resurrected Dick Clark?
I can see new films being release, with original screenplays, or even scripts based on novels, featuring a cast made up of Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. I’m sure the geeks who put the Jackson show together wouldn’t have a problem whipping up a remake of the original Star Wars featuring, say, Erol Flynn, as Han Solo, Mickey Rooney as Luke Skywalker, and Judy Garland as Princess Leia. They could put Groucho Marx in as Yoda, just for fun. “I’d Bantha-whip you, if I had a Bantha!”
Every so often I hear people yearning for the good old days of the Reagan era. Why not run a Reagan hologram for President? Millions would vote for it. There’s plenty of material in the Hollywood vaults that could be used to provide a hologram with more life-like characteristics than The Great Communicator ever had.
Finally, on the more practical side, wouldn’t you love it if they made a hologram of you. You could send it into the office to deal with that tyrant, Mr. Bullard, and those treacherous, backstabbing people at the office who call themselves your friends. Make sure they equip the hologram with a fully functioning light saber. Anybody gets out of line, it’ll be like the end of Yojimbo. “Things’ll be quiet around here now.”
It’s a science fiction world.