At 68, David Hasselhoff is reluctant to retire. Although, perhaps, the most accurate thing would be to say that the one who refuses to hang up the life preserver is ‘The Hoff’, the cartoonish alter ego of the protagonist of The Baywatch, that in recent years has appropriated the career of the legendary Baltimore actor. In Ze Network, his new television series, the interpreter will give life to a parody of himself who is “caught in the middle of an international conspiracy of Cold War assassins” while starring in a theater play in Berlin. The project is the latest proof of its status as meme andante, which he has cultivated without modesty or complexes, and that another handful of old glories also try to replicate to stay current in the industry.
“Fact or fiction, you decide.” The gamble with which Hasselhoff described the spirit of Ze Network it could apply to your more recent career, focused on exploring the frontiers of metafiction with that enthusiastic, backward-looking symbiote who pays his bills today. In addition to having made cameos in films as diverse as Guardians of the Galaxy Y Brain Drain 2, en the series Hoff the Record he was playing another caricature of his personality moving to London to try to revive his career in British industry. In Killing Hasselhoff, a film from 2017, became the target of a nightclub owner who sought to liquidate him to pay off a significant financial debt. “The Hoff generates much more money than Hasselhoff, so I go wherever he goes,” acknowledges the actor pragmatically.
“It strikes me as a smart and audacious outlet for these stars of the past. Either that, or that a successful director rescue them and give them back a bit of dignity ”, explains to ICON the journalist Álvaro Corazón Rural, who back in 2018 signed in Jot Down a sketch of the actor’s musical success in Europe at the end of the eighties. “The great capital of an artist today is the attention that he can generate around him. All the great stars, whether they are established, meritorious or decadent like Hasselhoff, enjoy that capital, they do not need to start from scratch and they can make it profitable in many ways as a marketing strategy ”, he adds.
From Charlie Sheen to Nicolas Cage, through James Van Der Beek or a Jean-Claude Van Damme who has explored so much in film (JCVD) like on television (Jean-Claude Van Johnson) his facet as an ousted 90s action star, the examples of actors who have become less resigned to get all the dramatic and economic juice out of this condition multiply. In Spain, What happened to Jorge Sanz? is one of the clearest paradigms of this genre, with David Trueba theorizing about the decline as a leading man of Spanish cinema of the protagonist of If they tell you that I fell. More than ten years after its premiere, Sanz seems to have adhered to that profile and is already a common face in the television formats of the national grid such as Come have dinner with me: gourmet edition.
In the case of Nicolas Cage, who also embraces that perception of an eccentric and over-acted performer in countless after-dinner action movies, the actor summed up with a classic saying the generalized attitude among those who experience the phenomenon of becoming aware of their own character and exploit him: “If you can’t beat your enemy, join him.” Cage has recently channeled this profile again, acting as presenter of the Netflix docuseries The history of words, which makes the most of the restless qualities of its host.
Before giving life to Michael Knight, Hasselhoff had made a name for himself in the American industry thanks to his participation in the soap opera The Young and the Restless, in which he appeared for six years playing a medical student. After 850 episodes, he left the role to chat with KITT on The fantastic car, one of the essential fictions of the eighties. “We live in a time of retromanía that multiplies exponentially ”, adds Álvaro Corazón. “The past is vindicated at every level, every decade, and it’s fun to see how shabby it was and the harsh values that the character used to embody. Their vindication is part of this kind of decadent party that we celebrate now ”. The news of the premiere of Ze Network It is especially symbolic considering that the channel that produces the series today, the German RTL, is the same one that broadcast in the mid-eighties The fantastic car and made Hasselhoff one of the biggest stars in Germany… and the unexpected hero of reunification.
David Hasselhoff singing in 1989 during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Get over that, Angela Merkel.
December 31, 1989. Thousands of Germans gather on the remains of the recently collapsed wall to welcome the new year and, above all, that Mr. Marshall in a luminescent jacket and scarf stamped with piano keys that symbolized the cohesion of the country. On a construction crane, Hasselhoff sang of freedom with his success Looking for freedom, a version of the classic theme On the road to the south who had hypertrophied thanks to (or because of) the popularity achieved in the crime series. While the fiction was completely unknown to the citizens of East Germany, the song was a success on both sides of the wall, becoming an unexpected soundtrack to a key moment in international geopolitics. It shipped more than a million records and was at the top of the charts for two months. Hasselhoff was probably already a meme long before anyone invented that word.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.