chapter  6
The E-Double and the Trouble Man
Pages 10

Dating back to Natalie Cole's eeric duct wirh her latc father, Nat King eole, on "Unforgettable" a decade ago, recording technology has facilitated the possibility of digitized duets from the grave. These songs are reminiscent of thc Dirt Devil commercials with Fred Astaire or the recent Alcatel commercials in which a digitized Martin Luther King,]r., speaks to an empty mall at the site where the 1963 March on Washington was held. Many audiences have been disturbed by such gimmicky attempts at selling vacuurn cleancrs and potted distortions of historical events. In an editorial, Julianne Malveaux, who was unfamiliar wirh Alcatel, wrote, "Whatever they are, I am appalled, even as I learned that King's heirs were paid welt"] Echoing Malveaux's concerns, Michael Eric Dyson asserted that "it's not simply that we have to ask Alcatel the question, we have to ask the people who allow that message to go forward. That's the King family."l The controversy surrounding King's Alcatel commercial is of course part of an attempt by black pundits and others to protect a significant black icon from crass commercialism. According to one of King's former lieutenants Reverend Joseph Lowery, "if the company would use Dr. King's image to deliver a message that was Dr. King's message like world peace and (the] end ofviolence, I think it would be perfectly appropriate and a good use of ... new technology to deliver an old message. " .1