Have you ever wondered what your favorite celebrities would look if they were dead? Have you ever wanted to take a selfie with your favorite performer if that performer had first glanced at some sort of waxy Medusa creature? Have you ever wanted to see either of these things under extremely bright but moderately flattering lighting? These are the services our society relies on wax museums for. And apparently it’s a crucial need, because when wax statue artists get their lustrous celebrity lookalikes wrong, people get up in arms.
Case in point is the latest Beyoncé wax statue debacle in which Madame Tussauds New York was mercilessly ridiculed online for its unrecognizable Bey, recently revealed on the company's Twitter account on July 12. The light skinned, vaguely-familiar-but-definitely-not-Beyoncé statue inspired folks to post pictures of even more bad wax statues online, driving home the unpopular opinion that wax museums are a weird waste of time and money.
Even though we live in a time during which we are constantly bombarded with images of celebrities, and communicating with our idols is just a matter of one well-timed tweet, new wax museums keep opening. Boston is welcoming a new wax museum this summer. India got its first wax museum, the Celebrity Wax Museum, in 2005, and a Madame Tussauds in Delhi will open later this year. Nashville and Istanbul both got new Madame Tussauds branches in 2016.
Devon Maloney explained the disconnect in a 2015 Vanity Fair article, writing they “have become a tactile, interactive celebrity experience that counteracts our digital lives, in which @-replying Harry Styles a million times has the tendency to estrange one from the real world.” And while that may very well be true, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that wax museums are popular tourist attractions and not a niche activity. Why do people visit far off cities only to spend 40 bucks to walk around a warehouse filled with replicas of people who mostly have nothing to do with the city you’re paying good money to visit? Not only that, but why does every move a wax museum makes seem to get so much media coverage?
I know making wax figures is a serious craft and should be respected as such. But if you believe that, then don’t you believe that wax museums need to be pushing themselves a bit further? Especially if they can’t pull off a replica of one of the most recognizable performers in the world. If wax statues of celebrities aren’t presented in new ways, or at very least executed well, then why not just learn a bit of Photoshop and make your own fake selfies from home?
There are many things I love about the world — burgers, autumn, time spent with good friends — but wax museums aren’t one of them. If I want to pay to watch shiny people stand around perfectly still and dead-eyed, I’d ride the New York City subway and be done with it. Other than that, I have reality TV and celebrity Twitter beef to watch. So thanks but no thanks wax Beyoncé wannabe, I’m good.