Dear Mr. Wanker,
With a heavy heart I observe that you have changed your professional name to ‘Thomas Wander’, presumably having been advised of its comic potential by the executives behind one or another of the recent blockbusters you have scored, including 10,000 BC and 2012. While this precaution is an understandable move to safeguard your career (given your new high-profile status), I fear it also displays an unforgivable lapse in character.
The Wanker name has a proud Germanic heritage. Your actions are not isolated, but represent an ever-present pressure in the image-obsessed world of Hollywood, where all aspects of performers have traditionally been sculpted to fit one rigid, inoffensive mold. In these ‘enlightened’ days up-and-coming stars may not be expected to go as far as Hispanic actress Margarita Cansino, who not only changed her name to ‘Rita Hayworth’ but was compelled by Columbia Pictures to undergo extensive electrolysis and full-body skin bleaching to make her more palatable for Western audiences. However, one area in which this form of ethnic cleansing is still permitted to function is in the names of those in the limelight – so Carlos Estévez becomes ‘Charlie Sheen’, Natalie Hershlag adopts the surname ‘Portman’, and even someone like yourself, whose contribution is by definition heard and not seen, is forced to reshape what little personal identity protrudes into the public sphere.
Of course this worrying trend is not isolated to the movie industry – around the world people with names considered ethnically shameful or potentially comical in the English language feel compelled to change them, systematically eliminating much variety and colour from our culture. Recent studies in Britain alone show that over the last hundred years or so the number of ‘Cock’s has fallen by roughly three quarters, while half of families with the name ‘Daft’ have also forsaken their heritage, both names having been handed down for centuries. Not only is Ed Balls, our current Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, a respected politician, but his dedication to the family name in the face of headlines such as “Balls Implicated in Collapse of School Exam System”, or “Balls Attacked by MPs”, can inspire only a mixture of admiration and disbelief.
I urge you to draw inspiration from the honorable Mr. Balls who, despite having a name uniquely prone to ridicule, has chosen to uphold it despite his prominent position in the public eye. Have faith that, if your work is worthy of praise, it will be recognised no matter what name appears in the credits. I understand as well as anyone the danger of immature audience members making childish puns such as “He comes from a long line of Wankers”, or “He was a Wanker from the day he was born”. Or “Wanker pulls a fast one”. I freely admit that the first time I saw your real name on screen after Alien vs. Predator (2004) was a truly magical experience, and remains a cherished memory – in fact, to me your decision feels like a profound personal betrayal, robbing the world of a simple pleasure. I don’t ask for much in life. However I implore you now to reconsider your decision, not only for my sake, and the sake of every cackling buffoon like me, but to preserve the diverse integrity of your culture, and all of our screens.
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“thomas wanker is my hero, also strangely enough we share the same surname, as i am Helmut Wanker, in my eyes Thomas is top Wanker”
(Anonymous entry on Thomas Wanker’s page at moviedost.com)