MCA: The New Style

The music community suffered quite a loss with the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch, the renowned founder of the Beastie Boys. The Beastie Boys influenced an array of different musicians due to their unique sound, which consisted of a collaboration of hip-hop, funk and alternative rock. The Beastie Boys are distinguished for their ability to maintain artistic control while recording for Def Jam and their overall image of positivity as reflected by the Tibetan Freedom concert organized by Yauch. Artists ranging from Radiohead’s front man Thom York to Eminem voiced their genuine admiration for Yauch as both an individual and a fellow musician. Thus, it comes as no surprise that musicians across the board have been dedicating performances and tributing songs in Yauch’s memory. In New Jersey, the Red Hot Chili Peppers announced they “were playing [this] show tonight for Adam Yauch.” Meanwhile, at Irvine’s own KROQ Weenie Roast last weekend, Chris Martin of Coldplay graced the stage with a ballad-like rendition of “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party.”

It’s always difficult to accept when such incredibly influential musicians lives are cut short. These musicians have touched the lives of so many people, coast-to-coast, continent-to-continent. The language of music is universal and the message of a single song can have such a lasting impact on an individual; thus, it’s understandable to want to hold on to the memories of these legendary musicians. We all still hang up posters of Kurt Cobain and John Lennon and wonder what they would have accomplished had they been able to grow old and grey like the rest of us.

However, where do we draw the line when it comes to holding on to the memory of these musicians? The hoax tales of Elvis and Tupac start to become more eerie than ever when they can appear in holographic form as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Some might say that there is not a vast difference from seeing a hologram of an artist and watching old episodes of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan show on the big screen. It is not any technologically complicated slide of hand; it is simply a projection of an image on a sheet of Mylar. It’s as simple as that. What is not simple matter are the questions that arise with the development of these new age holograms. Is it just another addition to the ever-engrossing entertainment industry to add beaming in musicians in a R2D2-Princess Leia-esque form? Or does having musicians on hologram demand just continue the invasion of privacy of stardom beyond the grave? Are we really letting celebrities rest in peace, if we continue to resurrect them on stage?

Clearly, the regulation of the emergence of holographic celebrity appearance is going to be a legal nightmare. If we thought Michael Jackson owning the rights to the Beatles was copyright-controversial, just wait until someone claims the rights to Michael Jackson’s hologram. It is bizarre to imagine that now people can leave the “rights” to their life in their will.

Therefore, we must also ask ourselves is it justifiable for any other person to own the “rights” to another human’s life? It does not seem very sensitive to the loved ones of a famous musician to allow them to reappear on stage as if they are still around. What people seem to forget is that these illustrious artists are still human and they deserve to have their memory respected just like anyone else.

There is nothing wrong with posthumously continuing the legacy of prominent musicians.  It is highly respectable when other musicians’ tribute songs to those who have passed on and allow younger generations to appreciate an artist that was not around during their life span. Sure, a hologram here and there for an epic duet is not a complete faux pas. We will just have to see what comes of this recent perfected art of holographic appearances to determine whether it is disrespectful or merely an evolution of media.

 

Tracy Ratledge is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at tratledg@uci.edu.