Bruce Jenner said “Call me Caitlyn” and now another celeb has had gone trans-nominitive. There’s no “Hassel” in David Hasselhoff name change. ET Online reported on Nov. 13, that the actor formerly known as David Hasselhoff legally shortened his name to David Hoff. So “Call me Hoff” says the now Hassel-free Dave. Apparently this is something David Hoff has been wanting to get off his chest (driver’s license, birth certificate) for some time. David Hasselhoff nee David Hoff said in a Tweet and Youtube video that it’s a “massive relief” and that it “feels great. hope everyone understands.” You’d have thought he had gender reassignment surgery with all the fuss. Women do a name change every day via marriage license!
A name change through marriage is a social norm. Women are expected to give up their maiden names. They are thought disrespectful to their husbands if they don’t, even though many feel disloyal to their fathers if they do. If the woman is an only child, she may not want the surname to die with her parents. But when a man changes his name, it’s another story. Now he’s the disloyal one, society thinks. To change any part of one’s name implies dissatisfaction with one’s old name and, maybe by default, one’s parents who gave him said name. It also feels a little bit like betrayal to butcher a perfectly good surname, passed on through generations of family.
Some have had a name change foisted on them. African-American slaves were renamed with their “owners” names. Immigration officials at Ellis Island and Castle Rock were notorious for surname changes if they couldn’t pronounce or spell. They would have very likely cut dropped the Hassel in the surname for David Hoff without a qualm. Immigrants to the U.S. would change their surname to westernize it. Some wanted to shed stigmas of religious or cultural origin. Some did a name change for safety and to avoid persecution, such as Jews in eastern Europe. Germans were notorious for crimping their names to assimilate. (Hasselhoff is a Germanic name).
But it’s more than than with David Hasselhoff. The former Baywatch hottie’s name has become a legend, a meme, a caricature of superficial, lifeguard manliness. And it’s that caricature that David Hoff may have wanted to disassociate with. It must be hard for the once-super-hot to watch themselves age. How fallen are the mighty, or in the vernacular: the bigger they are, the farther they have to fall! So “Knight Rider” David Hasselhoff severed ties with his Hassel half. Will KITT now change his name too?