Pop Culture Post Secret: Papasonic

PapasonicAll you have to do is google “Anna Nicole paternity” or turn on any entertainment news show to find information on the three-ring circus that surrounds little Dannielynn Hope, Anna Nicole’s daughter, and the men circling around who claim to be her father- Howard K. Stern, Larry Birkhead, and even Prince Frederick von Anhalt. Even “respectable” news outlets have taken up the story; Anderson Cooper talks about genocide in Sudan in one moment and Howard K. Stern’s demeanor in court the next. Media attention was nothing out of the ordinary for Anna Nicole, but since she’s gone, her spot at the center is being filled by her daughter. Somehow it seems that if we just knew who the “real father” of Dannielynn Hope is, the whole controversy around Anna Nicole’s death would be cleared up. Her paternity seems to be the key to all the signification surrounding Anna Nicole herself.

The fascination with paternity is nothing new in our society. We tend to think of maternity as fixed in the body, while paternity is something shifting, potentially unknown (aptly demonstrated in the phrase, “mama’s baby, papa’s maybe”). Even as the biological and social “facts” of motherhood are being changed by adoption, surrogate mothers, in vitro fertilization, and two-mother households, the search for “the real father” goes on. Nobody seems to be asking who should be the mother of Dannielynn Hope; that point seems to be already fixed in Anna Nicole, although she’s no longer there to fill the role- and won’t be for the rest of her daughter’s life. Instead, the fascination with finding the father mirrors society’s fascination with finding “the creator” of meaning- an association that has been in play for quite a while in our society. In feminist theory, this societal distinction is often observed (women are depicted as the “bearers” of meaning, while men are the “creators” of it).

But, no matter who provided the sperm in this case, the words “Anna Nicole’s baby” would mean nothing to us without the media that presents them to us. The television captures her image, brings it to us, holds her in front of our eyes. It creates her. Despite the perverse motherly nurturing the TV enacts (bearing the image like a mother bears a child), it is labeled with the mark of the father.

Thus I give you here the real father of Dannielynn Hope- Papasonic.


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