Holographic Blackness: Tupac @ Coachella

Say what, word? Coachella uses a hologram that allows Dr. Dre to perform with Tupac Shakur. You can see the performance below:

I’m sorry I am not going to lie, if I was sitting in this audience and Tupac appeared on the stage, I would be both terrified and exhilirated all at the same time. Right before my analytical brain began to question what it means to sell tickets to a show featuring the holographic image of a deeply controversial black rapper. What does such resurrection mean for black bodies? Did Tupac’s mother give permission for her son’s image and body to be used in this way?

I am going to need Tricia Rose to speak on this. Like. Right. Now.

On the one hand, as a denizen of the generation that came of age to Tupac, there is something amazing about seeing Tupac performing – not in a video, but on a stage, with movements that are real and intimate; that look alive. On the other hand, this performance is very literally a resurrection. It looks real. It is painful in a way – because after all Tupac is not alive. He was brutally and violently murdered. And now, for commercial purposes, he is very literally resurrected as a marketing strategy for Coachella. Such a ploy (and artistic and creative endeavor) gives Coachella a nearly untouchable status for cool and innovation, but it places Tupac’s body in the service of a music industry that at times flatly vilified him.

I’m all types of uncomfortable.

You can read more about Coachella 2012 here. All in all, it seems like an amazing event.

But all I can think about is all the ways that holographic black bodies are now going to be put to use…does this mean I am cynical beyond repair?


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