The announcement of Kate Middleton's pregnancy caused millions of celebrity-obsessed adults to suddenly focus on the well-being of a royal fetus, while said adults' children -- too young (and sensible) to care -- jockeyed for scraps of attention, and perhaps sustenance. And so goes the modern age of celebrity-fixation, where Middleton's morning sickness takes precedence over your real-life responsibilities until the focus shifts to naming the newborn.
When a celebrity couple names their child after a crayon and the foliage blanketing the walls of Harvard, as Jay-Z and Beyonce did, it's not merely an enthralling moment in popular culture. Rather, it's an artistic statement, an exercise in creative expression, and often perceived by celebrity-worshipers as a moment of genius.
When you're not a celebrity, however, it's a mistake that will have negative ramifications on your child until death provides a much needed respite. Naming your child 'Blue Ivy' and sending her off to public school ensures scheduled beatings for a minimum of 12 consecutive years. In public school, Blue Ivy isn't kitschy, but a bullseye on one's back. In private school, it's got cachet.
And yet, ordinary people continuously seek a unique name for their child and view the process as a creative outlet and proverbial blank canvas by which they can live vicariously as a celebrity. And the children that "are our future" suffer accordingly. For instance:
Let's say you find the name 'Apple' to be extraordinary (as did Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), and are longing to name your unborn child after produce as well. And given your love of apples you want to apply a similar name, but without infringing on the artistry concocted by two strangers you'll never meet in your entire life, but for whom you have great (albeit unwarranted) affection. So you spend days vigorously contemplating, but you're not famous, which would make the process so much easier. And 'Apple' seems so perfect that you almost consider blatantly copying their name, until you remember your love of horses. And you're instantly giddy with naiveté because you think that summoning such cleverness proves you should also be a celebrity. After all, you did name your child 'Horse Apple'. But eventually you come to the realization that you bestowed your child with a name that is also a synonym for piping hot horse excrement, and begrudgingly return to reality where you'll spend the rest of your day searching for an attorney to amend your indelibly scarred child's birth certificate.
You're probably thinking that such a thing would never happen in a civilized society. I would invite you to recall that in November someone named their baby 'Hashtag,' and then to reevaluate whether the above scenario is actually all that inconceivable.
Arbitrary Name Changes:
I don't have children, and it's not simply on account of, in the immortal words of George Costanza, "I'd like to have a kid... of course you've got to have a date first." The larger impediment involves an inability to select a name that won't be reinterpreted without consent.
All my life I've essentially gone without my given name, as friends and enemies alike call me whatever variation they feel is most appropriate. "Jay," "Jace," "Jalen," "J-K," and others are all popular, but typically my first name is neglected for my surname. It's sort of like Seal, or Sting, or Bono, but in reverse. Apart from my parents and close relatives, I'm referred to as "Kitchen" or some variation thereof: "Kitch," "Kitchy-Kitch," etc.
Hence, my quandary over ever naming a child. Should the time ever come, I'm not looking to seize an opportunity for my creativity to flourish; I'm searching for a name that others won't arbitrarily alter to their own liking.
A Missed Opportunity:
In 2011, Ron Artest changed his name to 'Metta World Peace' to "inspire and bring youth together all around the world." I'm not sure what that means, but I expected a full-on movement among celebrities.
Celebrities are always backing causes, and wouldn't it have been nice if the recent Golden Globe winners received their awards as 'Cancer Needs a Cure,' or 'Famine is Problematic,' or 'Mother Theresa of Calcutta was a Lovely Lady?'
Perhaps non-celebrities should consider following the path of Metta World Peace by naming a child after a cause, rather than a vegetable. If it's a slow news day (or just a day for CNN) this might be your opportunity to become a quasi-celebrity:
"Cute kid, what's his name?" "Cancer Needs a Cure." "What a ridiculous name; you're a complete idiot. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm suddenly compelled to make a donation to cancer research."
If you're going to ruin your child's life, it might as well be in the name of a good cause.