Congratulations, Diablo Cody, for winning one (an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) for all the pseudonym-bearing people of the world. Of course, the real question is: Would “Juno” have been picked up if it were by Brook Busey-Hunt? Oh, and congratulations for making me second-guess the name I have so n„ively accepted for the last 21 years of my life.
Before coming across Diablo’s nom de plume (“pen name” for those of you who don’t speak French), I hadn’t really given much thought to the idea of changing my name. But compared to “Diablo Cody,” the byline of “Allison Baker” seemed extraordinarily dull, even for a columnist. That’s when I realized it was time for a change. I needed something catchy, something snappy, something . demonic. But more on that later.
Throughout history, writers, actors and performers have elected to change their names to make them easier to say, easier to remember or just to liven up the label of their “prescription” drugs. Also, many unions, like the Screen Actor’s Guild, don’t allow more than one person to have the same name. Alternatively, perhaps they want to stick it to their parents for naming them after their favorite emotion (Faith, Joy, Hope, Animosity) or TV character (Addison, Jack, Chuck, Pam). Either way, changing your name can be something of a challenge because there are so many options. You can change it partially, completely or simply find a single moniker that suits you.
First, there’s the semi-pseudonym, reserved for those who want to sound less foreign (Jennifer Anistonapoulos?) or maybe want to create an identity apart from their family (Nicolas Cage, whose surname is Coppola). In this camp are Jon Stewart (Leibovitz), James Dean (Byron) and Adolf Hitler (Schickelgruber). This is a good option if you only hate half – or most – of your name.
Then there are those completely dissatisfied with their given names and change them completely, like Diablo Cody. Among these are M.C. Hammer (Stanley Kirk Burrell), Cary Grant (Archibald Alexander Leach), Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle) and Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu). Clearly no part of their names were salvageable.
Finally, there are those insistent upon having just one name. This includes Bono, Madonna, Moby, Sting, Cher, Dr. Seuss, Pink and Enya. No one dares to question them.
In any case, selecting a pseudonym is a huge commitment (unless you are Sean “insert nom du jour” Combs) and can make or break your singing/screenwriting/porno/acting career. You must consider who has had your name before, and if you are willing to be associated with that name for all eternity – for example, the names Marilyn (Monroe = dead, Manson = death) or Mary (Magdalene, Had A Little Lamb). Despite what your parents tell you, your name is important. After all, Juliet only asked Romeo “What’s in a name?” because she wanted to get some.
So this brings us back to my initial ramblings: What to do with my own “rose”? Well, since Diablo is already taken, I guess I’ll just have to settle for my own boring name, until by some stroke of genius, I find a suitable alternative. I’m open to suggestions.
Allison Baker is an English senior, Mustang Daily columnist and pop-culture enthusiast.