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Dead celebrities should be allowed to rest in peace and not be exploited

Dead celebrities should be allowed to rest in peace and not be exploited

Dead celebrities should be allowed to rest in peace and not be exploited
November 21
17:11 2019

It was recently announced that for the first time in 64 years, screen legend James Dean is going to add another acting credit to his impressive resume by appearing in a Vietnam war film “Finding Jack” which is set to be released Nov. 11, 2020. While that sounds like a marvelous human interest story, Dean was killed in a car accident in 1955 during the height of his fame. He will be digitally inserted into “Finding Jack” and not many people are taking kindly to this issue.

Director Anton Ernst has defended himself against public outcry by stating it wasn’t his intention to use this as a marketing gimmick. Ernst feels he hasn’t crossed any moral line, but I beg to differ.

Ernst claims that he is respecting and preserving the legacy of Dean, but core audiences can see through his thin veil of deceit. It seems that he isn’t really interested in “respecting” the legendary actor, but instead it seems that by using Dean’s name, he is going to earn a lot of traction and press for his film, which will result in money and profit. Despite the fact he got the permission from Dean’s estate, he’s still going to cash in a check at the expense of someone else’s death. The only victim in this scenario is Dean who obviously can’t speak for himself.

This also brings into question about what this means for Dean’s career.

Though curiosity may drive audiences to theater seats, there’s no telling if the movie is going to be a critical or commercial success. Though Dean’s career was short lived – it only spanned from 1950-1955 before his tragic death – his resume includes three major motion pictures that includes classics such as “Rebel Without a Cause” and “East of Eden.” If “Finding Jack” flops, it could be an embarrassing stain on Dean’s career even if he didn’t perform the part in person.

Of course, this isn’t even the first time this disgusting act has been practiced. It can be traced all the way back to Coachella in 2012 when the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur was projected on stage via hologram to perform some of his biggest hits. But, some of the songs that were “performed” at Coachella were songs that he never performed when he was alive.

According to the undefeated, Shakur’s hologram was created by a theater trick called Pepper’s Ghost which projects an image onto an angled piece of glass which reflects to the audience and creates an illusion of a ghostly image.

While the crowd roared in applause, there was also many friends of Shakur behind the scenes that felt uneasy about a virtual hologram of their friend being broadcasted on stage. Famous Roots drummer Questlove claimed that he had nightmares in his sleep after the performance.

Other dead musicians have also been used in this same way. Just this year, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison’s holograms headlined shows for “The Rock N’ Roll Dreams Tour” in the U.K. The creators of the holograms, BASE, said that they were going to create an Amy Winehouse hologram with the intent of having her go on a three-year world tour and perform shows that would last anywhere from 75 to 100 minutes.

This isn’t to say that using the likeliness of celebrities in holograms or CGI can’t be a touching tribute, because it certainly can.

Paul Walker was tragically killed in a car crash in 2013 while he was in the middle of filming “Furious 7.” CGI was used to recreate Walker’s likeness during his final scene which was a poetic send-off for the deceased actor.

Another example could be when “Star Wars” used previously unreleased footage and doctored CGI to keep actress Carrie Fisher in the role of Leia Organa in “The Rise of Skywalker” after she died before the film has finished filming. Fisher undoubtedly meant a lot to the franchise and its fandom so it wasn’t distasteful. Her presence was fan service done right because it fit in with the overall  plot.

To use CGI for Dean in “Finding Jack” shows unoriginality on the end of Anton Ernst, especially when there are a lot of available A-list actors that could portray him in a real performance. This isn’t the future of cinema and if it is, fans shouldn’t want any part of it.

Dean deserves the right to rest in peace and to not be shamelessly exploited for his name and look.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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