Further proving that death is just a minor hiccup between tours, a hologram is in the works that will resurrect Selena Quintanilla, the “Queen of Tejano music” whose murder in 1995 put what is now a temporary crimp in her recording schedule. That’s because, unlike other recent celebrity “holograms”—which pedants will point out are not really holograms, but rather old-fashioned projections, like their many insecurities—the new Selena “hologram” will be more of a “vocaloid,” akin to Japan’s virtual pop stars.
Her creator, Acrovirt LLC, is dedicated to “the virtualization of humans in various degrees of anatomical and mental detail,” designing a “walking, talking, singing, and dancing digital embodiment” that will react and adapt autonomously on Selena’s behalf—and that includes more than just performing concerts and singing Selena’s old songs. With the support of her family, who will no longer have to let Selena stand in the way of all it wants for Selena, this new Selena “will release new songs and videos, will collaborate with current hit artists, and aims to go on tour in 2018.” And she will be differentiated from the late Selena with the name Selena The One, as in The One That Makes You Uncomfortable About The Burgeoning Future Of Digital Graverobbing.
Attempts to make a Selena hologram have been in the works pretty much since the reemergence of Tupac and Michael Jackson kickstarted the whole trend, though last year Selena’s family said the process had proved more expensive and difficult than they’d expected. As her brother explained to the Associated Press, the images they had of Selena were of poor quality—“She looked like a ghost,” he lamented of this spectral, shadowy apparition of a dead person—and suggestions that they just incorporate footage of Jennifer Lopez from the movie Selena were both ridiculous and disrespectful.
“Some people say, ‘Well, we could use Jennifer Lopez’s body and put Selena’s head,’ but that wouldn’t make any sense. If you love Selena, why would you want to see JLo’s body with her head? It would be like Frankenstein,” her brother said at the time. Instead, he opted to go with this much more sensible, far less unsettling fully digital creation, stitched together from various pieces of Selena’s body and persona to make a mockery of death.
Of course, honoring Selena isn’t as simple as downloading her essence into a digital puppet that can then be manipulated by her family and producers alike. There’s also the small matter of money, with Acrovirt hoping to raise $500,000 via IndieGoGo toward her creation—just some of the many dollars that will have been made over the decades through the marketing of Selena’s image, without Selena ever benefiting. So in that sense, the digital Selena is already a perfect replica.