The very concept of the Dio hologram seemed to ruffle a lot of feathers pretty much from the moment it was announced. Those of us who are against it argue that it has a creepy uncanny valley quality, that it’s generally pretty weird to pay to go see what is effectively a CGI ghost, that we have no way of knowing how Dio would felt about it, that a fake performance does a disservice to the skill it takes to put on a real one, and that it’s regressive and potentially damaging to an industry that is already in the dumps (if no performer is ever off the table for a tour despite being deceased, plenty of people will see no reason to ever seek out new artists). Those of who are for it argue that, like, whatever, dude, it’s fun.
Tim “Ripper” Owens falls squarely in the latter camp. Of course, he has to fall squarely in the latter camp: he’s going to be one of two “guest vocalists” on the hologram’s upcoming tour, along with Lynch Mob’s Oni Logan. Still, the pro-Dio hologram argument he made during a recent appearance on the Everblack Podcast is reasonably convincing, so long as you don’t take a second to think about it.
Speaking about the controversy surrounding the hologram, Mr. Ripper questioned the difference between this and a wax statue or biographical movie (as transcribed by Noisecreep):
“[Fans] would go to a wax museum and see a wax statue of Lemmy and think, ‘Oh my God, this is fantastic.’ They’ll say, ‘I love that Queen movie.’ Then they go, ‘It’s terrible you’re doing this. Let Ronnie rest in peace.’”
First of all, no one over the age of eight has ever seen a wax statue of anything and thought it was fantastic.
Second of all, a wax statue doesn’t perform, and a music concert doesn’t provide a narrative overview of or insight into the artist’s life. Going to see an actor play Freddy Mercury in the context of a story about Freddy Mercury isn’t the same thing as going to see a Freddy Mercury hologram which is ostensibly there to help you suspend disbelief and pretend he’s still alive.
Honestly, my problem with the hologram isn’t the “Let Ronnie rest in peace thing,” or the “stop profiting from Ronnie now that he’s dead” thing. It’s really what I said up in the first paragraph: a fake performance does a disservice to the skill it takes to put on a real one, and it’s regressive and potentially damaging to an industry that is already in the dumps. What will happen when a member of Metallica dies? Who cares? They’ll just make a hologram we can all go see. My great-great-grandkids will be watching Metallica shows featuring the band’s members in their twenties, just like I did as a kid, except it will be a hundred years later. Will they feel inspired by that hologram to learn to play an instrument? Will they aspire to be holograms themselves one day?
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, why even wait ’til the person is dead to make that hologram? James Hetfield’s best years, at least from a performance standpoint, were in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when he was in his twenties and early thirties. Why even accept a lesser Hetfield? Why not just replace him with a hologram right now?
The only pro-hologram argument I’ve ever heard that really made sense to me is the one that compares it to a laser light show. I guess I buy that. I still don’t like it, but it makes more sense than anything Ripper said.