Image: Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)
1. I could understand a Las Vegas residency for “A Night with Whitney.” What happens there, rightly stays there, so it makes sense. Yes, that’s a non-sequitur. But so is ‘Whitney was popular let’s make her a ghost and tour her.’ I’ve been to Vegas and seen things that I have not seen anywhere else, both commercially and from random passersby on the street. Las Vegas is where good and bad ideas go to live long and prosper. Michael Jackson’s hologram doing a series of shows makes total sense to me there. Shit, I’d go see a Frank Sinatra hologram residency there because that sounds novel and, like, Vegas-y as fuck.
2. Whitney Houston’s hologram hopping on a plane (as a laptop, I suppose, or maybe via R2D2) and traveling across Europe and landing in places like Bournemoth, England, just seems gratuitous to me. I ain’t trying to tell anybody what to do with their money, but who the fuck is paying money for this? And how much money is it for “A Night with Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour?” I’m glad I asked. Well, I just checked the cost for the February 27, 2020, tour stop at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool and the cost is roughly $90 (in U.S. equivalent dollars).
3. I hate to ask this question but I feel like I have to: Are folks outside of our community clamoring for a Whitney Houston ghost show at this point? Hell, are people inside of our community clamoring for this? Who asked for this? Is the novelty of this that compelling that it can command an international tour at arenas? I can obviously be wrong about this, but I’m very much amazed that this idea has gone this far. Even just checking the size of the venues across Europe makes me scratch my head. For instance, Cirkus in Stockholm has a capacity of 1,650, whereas M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool tops out at 11,000. Are 11,000 people going to pack the house to see a live YouTube video?
4. Let me be clear: I’m not trying to tell people not to try new things or stop them from getting their money, but ummm….would Whitney want this? I realize that Pat Houston, Whitney’s longtime manager, her sister-in-law AND the sole executor of her estate, has the discretion to do what she wants, but is this going to do anything for Whitney’s legacy? Tupac’s hologram showed up at Coachella in April 2012—two months after Whitney passed—so it isn’t like she ever said, “That’s cool, Pat. When I pass, I want to be a hologram to make sure I can perform forever!”
5. You know how some shit just feels like a money grab? Okurrr.
6. Why not start this in America? In cities with sizable black populations to see if WE are even willing to spend money on this? Maybe I’m overestimating the black community market value here; Whitney, at one point, was literally one of the biggest stars in the world. But if you were, say, 21 in 1985, and you are now alive (and not a hologram) in your mid-50s, are you paying money to go see a hologram show? Are young folks that interested in this tour? Maybe they get down in Europe differently than we do. Maybe I just don’t know markets at all, which is fine. But this tour is happening across the world. It’s heading to Mexico and obviously coming to America.
7. I get that Michael Jackson’s hologram, in partnership with Cirque du Soleil, was a thing in Vegas and was hugely successful, financially. I’m assuming that the estate is banking on the fact that Whitney was also a global superstar so this might work financially, as well. But that MJ show is in Vegas. Not Dublin and Moscow.
8. I don’t get the allure of hologram dead people. Like, the Eazy E and Tupac shit was like, cute at first, but at some point, it’s like, okay, it’s a hologram (or more accurately, an illusion). But that’s just me. Maybe some of you love these folks enough to see them in whatever form they may take. Me? I have YouTube. I will watch all of the videos all of the time and be just fine.
9. I wonder how much a hologram commands financially. Follow me here: Whitney Houston, alive, would command a significant amount of money to perform because, well, she’s Whitney. Does the estate get to command that same amount for her hologram? Inquiring minds would like to know.
10. Let’s say you go see this hologram tour because you are a person with actual disposable income and probably very little student loan debt. Let’s also say you never saw Whitney Houston perform when she was alive and never saw her in the mall, or on a street corner or anything. You’ve never seen Alive Whitney (I can’t believe I have to make this distinction), is the point. After you see this show, do you get to say you saw Whitney Houston perform, or is this like listening to an audio book where you didn’t actually read the book, so if asked you can’t say you “read” the book, even though you know all of the words in the book because you heard them? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night.