Elvis is in the building. The digital revolution that’s bringing stars back from the dead.
Elvis Presley is on tour. Again. Quite the achievement for someone who has been dead for a shade over 30 years.
In the words of Dr. Frankenstein – ‘He’s ALIVE’!!
Actually, thats not what he really said but then again, Elvis isn’t really ALIVE…. he is however, the latest dead celeb to be digitally remastered and beamed into arenas across the globe. Billed as a live concert experience like no other – presumably, because he’s not (a)live. Using old footage Elvis is ‘live on screen’, supported by the Philharmonic Orchestra for Elvis fans, this is a spectacle not to be missed.
Creepy? Cool? Or, as the more cynical among us may think, is it an exploitation of the singer’s image to make money. Lots and lots of money.
And so we face the final curtain-ish
Posthumous performances have been about for a while bringing artists back video footage played on screen and sometimes even complete interactive CGI holograms. Tupac, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson and even Frank Sinatra (did he or didn’t he face the final curtain) have all given sell-out performances long after they died – you can watch a few of them here. In fact, the estate of the American-Mexican artist Selena Quintanilla-Pérez – tragically shot dead by an employee at the height of her fame, aged just 23 – is proposing to take this one step further. They are making a bid to relaunch her career (whether she likes it or not). They have planned endorsements, collaborations with contemporary artists, the release of new music and a tour – there’s gotta be a tour right, computer-generated reincarnations do not come cheap. There is money to be made. A lot of money. But, is it ethical?
In fact, it’s not just singers who perform from beyond the grave – Audrey Hepburn has recently been eating chocolate from the back of a convertible on the Amalfi Coast for Galaxy. Steve McQueen drove a Ford Puma (while, probably, turning in his grave) and Kurt Cobain (badly photoshopped) into a brand new pair of Doctor Martens 13 years after his death. And, there have been many actors who died before completing their scenes, including; Oliver Reed – Gladiator, Marlon Brando in Superman Returns, Paul Walker – Fast and Furious 7 and Brandon Lee – The Crow – who through a plethora of digital techniques, body doubles, and huge expense -2 minutes of screen time for Oliver Reeds ‘ghost’ in Gladiator cost around $3.2 million – still managed to make the final cut.
Acrylics or lyrics? The death effect paradox
The “death effect” is nothing new. Painters and sculptures have been at it for years. Van Gogh (supposedly) sold just ONE painting in his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, in case you wanted to know, his art now sells for millions. Slightly different to the art created by singers – Van Gough, Da Vinci et al created tangible pieces of art that can be bought and sold. They have not been turned into a hologram and plugged in and beamed on to arena stages around the world belting our their seminal pieces of work, just as long as there isn’t a power cut. But, the fact is there is a continued appetite for artists work after their death – be it in acrylics or lyrics.
So, is this current Elvis tour a blatant exploitation of the dead artist – who cannot and, possibly has not given permission for their image to be used this way, or even aligned with the brands associated with the tour – to make what will definitely be a bucket load of money. OR, does this present a way to give the legions of dedicated fans an opportunity to experience what it (might) have been like watching their hero on stage, albeit a CGI version with no pulse.
Can you protect your image after death?
As technology continues it’s relentless advancements is this something we ALL should pay thought to? Fiercely protective of his personal life Robin Williams put in place detailed instructions restricting the use and/or exploitation of his image for 25 years after his death. These provisions mean that he will not be digitally inserted into any TV shows, adverts or films – sorry Audrey. He also handed over the rights to his likeness, signature, and name to a charitable organisation – so post 2039, when the 25-year ban is lifted, any monies earned will go straight to the Windfall Foundation which has been set up in his name. As we continue to become led by everything digital – if my daughter’s generation are heralded as ‘digital natives’ what will their children be… actually digital? this type of privacy agreement will, I should imagine, become par for the course.
Deathbed social media audit anyone?
When I think of the pictures we have of the older generations – formally dressed, younger versions of our ancestors. A wonderful, awkward innocence in sepia. Brittle photographs, on actual paper that have, remarkably, survived decades. Then I think about all the images that I’ve shared on social media. Up there on the internet. I’m sure my great-grandchildren don’t need to see a detailed account of a girls weekend in Bath circa 2005… It’s very possible that I’ll be found on my death bed deleting pictures from my social media accounts. Protecting my image after death or hiding the evidence… I couldn’t possibly comment.
Protect your image (and family and assets) by writing a Will
So, should you wish to prevent Galaxy inserting your digitally manipulated image into the back of a convertible to help flog their chocolate – I’ll do it while I’m alive Galaxy, just give me a call – then you’ll need to pop it all down in your Will. Oh, you can use your Will to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones too. Call 01322 664885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to arrange your home visit.