If you’re 16 or over, the only thing stopping you from changing your middle name to “Danger” is the court filing fee ($435 in California). But wait, not so fast! Our names are more than legal classifications—they’re identities. This course examines three distinct aspects of name changing in today’s social and political climate.
First, we peel back the curtain on three iconic celebrity name changes. How do artists redefine themselves while the world is watching?
- From Snoop Dogg to Snoop Lion: the reinvention of a gangster rapper, Simon Hattenstone (The Guardian)
- SEX CHANGE SHOCKER—WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!, Lilly Wachowski (Windy City Times)
- The Fascinating Origin Story of Prince’s Iconic Symbol, Margaret Rhodes (Wired)
Next, we encounter individuals and institutions who have co-opted monikers for reasons ranging from obliviousness to selfishness to pure greed.
- The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black, Ijeoma Oluo (The Stranger)
- They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist, Jenny Zhang (BuzzFeed)
- The Washington _________, David Plotz (Slate)
Finally, we confront a sad truth—that sometimes our name is not in our hands at all.
- Motherfuckers, Roxane Gay (decomP)
- It’s a Problem That We’re Not Talking About Jimmy Kimmel’s Mahershala Ali Jokes, Jennifer Chowdhury (Marie Claire)
- Veterans Day’s Other Name, Matt Schiavenza (The Atlantic)
Matt Bogdanow is an educator, performer, and author of the instructional drumset method book The Backbone of Drumming. In addition to his ongoing contributions to the New Voices on Masculinities series at TheBridgesWeBurn.com, Matt also leads the rock band The Polar Quest, hosts the podcast Clearing The Queue, and teaches for Everyday Arts For Special Education. His last name is unusual enough that a simple Google search will tell you everything else you’d ever want to know (and probably some stuff you don’t).