Grimes photograph by Andrew Mager
Elon Musk and Grimes
I was reading the twitface newsfeed nonsense about Elon Musk and Grimes naming their baby a string of alphanumeric characters. Now, I don’t really care one way or the other about celebrities vying for attention after they’ve squeezed all the attention out of whatever made them famous in the first place, but I think it goes to show how the “giving your babies ironic and/or unusual names” thing has turned from an almost-lovable hipster quirk to an insufferable game of endless hipster one-upsmanship. Anyways, I didn’t come here to rant about baby names. I was actually thinking about how, if Elon Musk and Grimes got married, would she change her name to Grimes Musk? Then, I stopped thinking about that, because I don’t like to give celebrities the satisfaction of occupying my attention for too long. But then I started thinking about how fewer and fewer of my married friends follow the norm of “wife drops surname takes husband’s surname,” but at the same time there is no standard approach to hipster, trend-bucking married names. What’s a wedded hipster girl to do about her name these days?
You wrote one question, but, in combination with the long and ranty preamble, you actually raise two separate and distinct hipster issues.
First, we must address your celebrity animosity. Very hipster. Celebrity fascination is one of the least hipster activities. Expending precious time and mental effort to break with tradition is basically a full-time job for most hipsters, and they take pride in pushing boundaries. Celebrities act weird because they have become utterly detached from anything resembling reality, so acting like attention-grabbing weirdos is their normal resting state. Plus, there is basically zero risk involved in their weirdness because (a) they’re rich, and thus usually shameless; and (b) a non-trivial number of people will fawn over whatever they do. Normalizing weirdness and eccentricity basically saps all the fun out of it. A weird celebrity is about as edgy as an unfunny comedian acting just a little racist. Real original, bro.
Moving on to your question, the modern hipster bride faces a very tough choice with what to do about a name. Arranged in order from most to least conventional, the options are:
Take Husband’s Surname
Easy peasy and no trouble from anyone, but woke friends basically consider you a traitor to the cause.
Keep Your Surname
Classic feminist solution that signals “I’m nobody’s property!” Prepare for a lifetime of mildly disappointed Boomer in-laws, and school administrators questioning your relationship to your children.
Hyphenate Both Your Names
Very enlightened. You can hear the equality a mile away. Also totally unworkable for more than a single generation because (almost) nobody (except professional comedians) wants to type Charlie Goldfarb-McGovern-Kurosawa-Bennington into OpenTable.
Reject Both Your Names In Favor of a New, Hybrid Name
Definitely the wokest option with the greatest opportunity for creativity, yet guaranteed to anger parents who aren’t even your parents, just on principle. Also, paperwork intensive.
Naming conventions are, globally speaking, purely arbitrary arrangements that mean nothing in an absolute sense. They are, at best, benign rules of convenience that help us organize society. And yet people care deeply. The moral of the story here is, unfortunately, no matter what you do, it leads to some disappointment. Embrace it. It’s life in a nutshell.