‘CONTROLLED AND COMPLIANT’: THE AMY WINEHOUSE HOLOGRAM TOUR
After the announcement of the Amy Winehouse hologram tour in October 2018, the producers announced a delay in production in February 2019 due to ‘unique challenges and sensitivities’. Following criticism of the project, Winehouse’s father insisted it “was a chance to see the real Amy”. This poses the question: What is the ‘real’ Amy Winehouse? Amy Winehouse was famous for her private life as much as her extraordinary talent. Her public drug addiction and disordered eating were regular part of the media coverage, and were visibly etched onto her frail body and stumbling performances. Winehouse received negative coverage even after her death (Hearsum, 2015), often related to her hedonistic lifestyle. Her drug abuse and eating disorders can be understood as embodiments of postfeminist disorders (McRobbie, 2009) that can be read as a reaction to the expectation of a slim, regulated, feminine body. Her postfeminist body was often an ‘inconvenience’ that made commodifying her, her work and her music more difficult for the record industry because it would often refuse to function, as evidenced by cancelled tours, TV appearances, and recording sessions. The planned hologram tour, then, is an opportunity to commodify this ‘inconvenient’ body. Considering “the Frankenstein-like elements inherent in the notion of reanimating long-dead flesh” (Arnold, 2015: 181) in hologram tours, this paper explores the ways in which female celebrity embodiment can be understood in virtual contexts.
Arnold, R. (2015) ‘There’s a Spectre Haunting Hip-hop: Tupac Shakur, Holograms in Concert and the Future of Live Performance’, in: Strong, C. and Lebrun, B. eds. Death and the Rock Star. Farnham: Ashgate.
Hearsum, P. (2015) ‘Three Faces of Musical Motherhood in Death: Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Donna Summer’, in: Strong, C. and Lebrun, B. eds. Death and the Rock Star. Farnham: Ashgate.
McRobbie, A. (2009) The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: SAGE Publishing.
Nathalie Weidhase is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Media, Culture and Communication at Bournemouth University. Her research focuses on (post)feminism and femininity in popular culture, and she has published on women in popular music, celebrity feminism, and Brexit and the royal family. Her current work is concerned with the intersections of populism and gender in popular culture and media.