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April 12, 2005

Woman to change her legal name to [gamblingcorporation].com

-- by Thomas Leavitt

Apparently, some lost and deluded soul has auctioned off her legal name on eBay to the highest bidder, in this case, a gambling entity well known for publicity stunts. I refuse to mention that company's name (or link to them) and thus encourage this behavior. If you are curious enough, I'm sure you'll be able to find more information on your own.

Somehow, this bothers me even more than then plague of corporate sports stadium renamings ...

(and what is signaled when such institutions are commoditized and the center of power shifts from community to corporations), or even that town in Oregon that (I think just temporarily) renamed itself to [a company now owned by eBay].com. Your legal name is an essential feature of your personal identity -- this woman will have to sign her name as "[publicityseekingcorporation].com" for the rest of her life, on her drivers license, all legal documents (wills, title papers), any public references to her must include it, etc. She just got a real estate brokers license - who in their right mind is going to take her seriously? "Call [corporatevultures].com to list your house today!" Sure. Not to mention how confusing it will be to have [deathoftheculture].com on her signs.

This is the ultimate in intrusive advertising -- from now on, every single person who wants to interact with her, will be forced to also encounter and interact with the company who paid to change her name. The most intimate of personal interactions, an exchange of names, has now become commodified and branded. What was once sacred, is now profane.

This is just wrong, wrong, wrong... it leaves me deeply disturbed; what point talking about resistance to corporatization of the culture, when people are so willing to let it invest the most intimate parts of their lives? Stuff like this used to be the domain of cutting edge science fiction, dystopian parodies of corporate commercial culture; I guess this shows that life will almost always trump fiction, eventually.

What do you think? Am I over-wrought, or do you agree that this is a signal that something is seriously wrong with our culture, that we've allowed the corporate world far too much leeway to intrude into our personal lives?

--Thomas Leavitt

P.S. We really need a new category... maybe "Culture"?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at April 12, 2005 10:01 AM

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Comments

This really would belong in a "WTF?!?!" or "Freakshow" section...

Posted by: Jason at April 12, 2005 10:53 AM

All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned...

etc. etc.

Posted by: Karl at April 12, 2005 12:15 PM

You're hysterical. The woman has the right to make choices concerning her own body and identity (which part of that statement do you agree with and if you agree with the former and not the latter you're a hypocrite). Basic tenet of human liberty is the right to make choices which, as long as they cause no one else true harm, they have total autonomy in doing.

But, I've learned from reading this site that the authors aren't concerned with human liberty and free choices, just forcing people to make the choices the authors deem to be the best.

In other words: this is a left-wing fascist site and you just proved it with your attitude.

Posted by: Pericles at April 12, 2005 12:15 PM

You are most definitely NOT over-wrought, Thomas!

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at April 12, 2005 12:29 PM

I have a strong libertarian streak. I am not suggesting (and very specifically did not suggest in this posting) that any action be taken by "the state" to prevent this woman from doing this, or to prevent others from doing this in the future. I merely commented that, in my view, her action was foolish, and symptomatic of a larger problem being encountered by the society as a whole -- one which is worthy of discussion.

We, as members of a society, have a right to discuss and debate the mores by which the society is guided, and to critique the cultural matrix within which we live (just as the Christian right does). Doing so in now implies advocacy for enforcement of these guidelines by the state, which in my view should play the role of neutral arbiter and keep itself out of people's personal lives to the maximum extent feasible.

The right of autonomy does not imply a right to be free of criticism, either as an individual or corporation, for one's behavior by other members of society.

Posted by: Thoams Leavitt at April 12, 2005 12:51 PM

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