May 21, 2004

Naming One's Children

LIKE MOST RIGHT-THINKING Americans, we too were befuddled to learn that Gwyneth Paltrow, who we understand is an actress, and musician Chris Martin recently named their first-born child "Apple."

Now, this was not merely because the infant weighed in at 9 lbs. 11 oz., and hence was more worthy of the name "Grapefruit." Rather, it was because we couldn't figure out why Mr Martin and Mrs Paltrow, who are reportedly both of sound mind, would give their child such an odd appellation. Fortunately, though, the good people at the Microsoft Corp. have given us a bit of perspective in this regard. Thanks to them, we now understand that in the strange parallel universe in which celebrities exist, such a decision was neither outlandish or impetuous. For in comparison to other celebrities' choices, "Apple" doesn't fall too far from the tree.


Anyway, here's Microsoft's list of the worst celebrity baby names ever:

10. Rumer Glenn, Tallulah Belle and Scout LaRue, daughters of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore

9. Jett, son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston

8. Diezel and Denim, sons of Toni Braxton and Keri Lewis

7. Prince Michael, Prince Michael II (AKA Blanket), and Paris Michael, children of Michael Jackson

6. Speck Wildhorse and Hud, sons of John Mellencamp and Elaine Irwin

5. Pilot Inspektor, son of Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf

4. Tu Morrow, daughter of Rob Morrow and Debbon Ayre (seriously)

3. Audio Science, son of Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton

2. Moon Unit, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, Dweezil, and Diva, children of Frank Zappa

1. Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom, and Pixie, daughters of the late Paula Yates (Tiger Lily's dad is the late Michael Hutchence; Bob Geldof is father to the other three)

Now we know folks will have myriad opinions on which of these names is the most appalling. For instance, it is bad form to name one's child after a cheap clothing material; and if one must name one's child after a motor fuel, one ought spell the name of the fuel correctly. Still, we would argue that the worst is unquestionably No 3, Audio Science.

You see, the trouble with that particular name is that it is adaptable to any profession. It is the equivalent of a librarian naming his son Dewey Decimal, or a plumber naming his daughter Roto Rooter. Speaking personally, we can say we very much like the name Benjamin; and are quite glad our parents did not instead name us Fundamentals Tracking, Zero Coupon, or General Ledger Kepple. Buying Opportunity Kepple would have been right out too.

Now, we know the traditional complaints about odd names for children. The other kids at school will tease the badly-named child mercilessly; the badly-named child will get into fights; the badly-named child will get into trouble with the law, etc. But we do not consider those things to be the worst outcome associated with an unfortunate name for a child.

The worst outcome, rather, is this. The Apples and the Moon Units and the Pilots of this world are now permanently saddled, as if a neon sign was placed over their heads, with an advertisement proclaiming that their parents are idiots. That, we think, is a horrible thing.

It's not just that every child wants and needs deeply, in his or her heart, to be proud of his or her folks. We live in a society which has come to prize intelligence above all other traits, because intelligence usually translates into earning power and hence social status. As such, in later life -- when these children begin their careers and start their own families -- their oddball names will prove a handicap. Now, that may not matter if the children in question have parents whose names everyone recognizes. But we can assure you that we -- and, we would submit, most folks -- haven't any idea who Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton are. Given that, you think Audio Science would get a job at Sotheby's?

Well, certainly Tu Morrow wouldn't. All the European buyers would blink rapidly upon hearing her name, make stilted conversation and break out into a cold sweat. Then one of them would, out of habit, call her Vous Morrow and that would be the end of everything. The end result is that the buyers would get their Faberge eggs from Christie's.

Of course, we realize the celebrities' children may have worse troubles than an unfortunate name. For one thing, they'll grow up in the public's eye, something which we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. It is hard enough being a kid without feeling as if the whole world wants something from you. But in many ways, as their unfortunate names would seem to indicate, they will have to do quite the job at raising their parents. And that, like their names, goes strongly against the natural order.

(link via Allison Barnes)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at May 21, 2004 12:25 PM | TrackBack

When my friend Mitchell heard that Demi Moore and Bruce Willis named their kid Rumer, his comment was: "What -- will they name their next child Bald-faced Lie?"

Posted by: red at May 21, 2004 01:36 PM

Ha! Although, in Mr Willis' case, wouldn't that be "bald-headed lie?"

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 21, 2004 02:19 PM


While most of these names are quite stupid, Bruce and Demi's choice of appellations (good one), while uncommon, are older names traditionally given in the South. They aren't made up or anything. Rumer and Scout especially. I kind of like them, actually. They're kind of like Esther or Mathilda or Eugene. I won't name my kids that but I can respect it. Audio Science? That kid has many undeserved black eyes and Hertz donuts coming.......

Posted by: simon from jersey at May 21, 2004 04:11 PM


Well, I remembered "Scout" from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I had seen it before in some other media, so I wasn't going to go flat-out on that one. On the other hand, naming one's kid "Denim" is silly!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 21, 2004 06:23 PM

I just realized something really funny, that is, if Audio Science takes the name Sossamon. His initials will be ASS. Ha ha ha

Posted by: simon from jersey at May 22, 2004 04:09 PM

God save the poor boy!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 23, 2004 08:35 PM

Since celebrities already have tons of wealth and power, something the common man doesnt have, then to keep things in balance they need to lose one thing that the common man DOES have: dignity.

This "apple" name serves as that dignity-taking device. It is truly fitting, fair, and this seemingly odd behavior should always be encouraged within the elite hollywood communities. After all, these hollywood people are what the common man talks about around the water cooler, so to speak. After all, they did choose a life of "entertainment" and isnt this entertaining?

Think about it this way: Would you rather have the celebrities all name their children John and Jane, and never do anything unusual?

Posted by: AK at May 24, 2004 12:18 PM


I don't deny the wealth aspect to celebrities' lives, but I'm not convinced about their power, at least not outside the greater Los Angeles area. Consider: when Drew Barrymore tried to get on Wesley Clark's campaign bus here during the primary, the journalists all screamed at her to get out. As I see it, the real power in America rests in New York and Washington and Detroit; i.e., the financial world, the political world, and the old-line giant companies "too big to fail." But that's another discussion entirely.

But back to the baby names. Celebrities are in public life, and do influence some portion of the American people. As such, unless they are truly morons (and almost all are certainly NOT), they know exactly what they are doing when they spout off on Topic A or Conduct Wacky PR Stunt B. This is why they are fair game for ridicule and criticism (or, sometimes, effusive praise). And they are especially fair game when they make patently stupid decisions affecting the lives of their children, who, after all, have no choice in the matter.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 24, 2004 07:19 PM