Last week marked 20 years since Selena, the Queen of Tejano, was murdered. Many fans, including myself, wrote essays about why Selena has been able to transcend our culture's propensity to treat its entertainers as disposable. Some reasons: she made people who weren’t used to being represented feel seen, she redefined the word “mainstream” to encompass Latino culture, her music is unlike anything that was or is, etc.
I still listen to Selena on the daily. I still revel in my first generation difference because of her. So you would think that I would be happy about the recent news that a company called Acrovirt, LLC is planning on using new hologram-esque technology to create a "a walking, talking, singing, and dancing digital embodiment" of Selena, who will release new music, collaborate with new artists, and go on tour in 2018. I'm not.
This isn't the first time we've heard about a dearly departed musician being brought back in hologram form for the fans. Tupac infamously made an appearance at Coachella. Michael Jackson performed at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014. And Left Eye almost went on tour with TLC, until they realized it was a bad idea.
Like Selena, all three of these musicians died too soon, leaving a lot of what-could-have-beens and unfulfilled potential in their wake. So the idea behind these displays — to resurrect these performers and reshape history, to retell their artistic and life stories to encompass more — makes sense. Would I have loved to see what would have happened if Selena had lived to release her first English-language album? Would I love to see her on tour? Obviously, yes, but not this way. No matter how special the effects are, it'll never change the tragedy, it'll never make things right.
This Selena hologram isn't being used to remind people of her greatness; we already remember. The planned new releases and duets feel like a play to make money off of someone long dead, in a way that separates itself too far from the reality that Selena was a real human being, not a commercial product or fictional figure. Keeping her alive by playing her music or talking about her impact on us or through a drag number or watching the film based on her life is one thing. Keeping her alive for profit is quite another.