Have you heard of “Kevinism”? It’s Europe’s bias against people who have first names that are “culturally devalued” like Kevin, Chantal, Mandy and Justin — names that were popularized by American pop culture, typically.
In the case of Kevin, actors like Kevin Costner and Kevin Bacon — not to mention the very successful 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone, in which the lead character was a young Kevin — made the name very trendy overseas in the early 1990s. In fact, it hit #1 in several European countries, including France and Switzerland.
But after the trend cooled off, the backlash began. And it’s so bad now that, just a few years ago, a German schoolteacher told researchers that Kevin is “not a name, but a diagnosis.”
Which makes this recent observation by Andrew Gruttadaro of The Ringer all the more interesting: “Of the scripted shows on the four major [U.S.] networks that currently include a first name in the title–Kevin Can Wait, Young Sheldon, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Bob’s Burgers, Will & Grace, and Marlon–33 percent of them feature a Kevin.”
It’s a fascinating juxtaposition. Kevin has apparently hit some sort of nostalgic sweet-spot for American TV audiences, and, at the same time, it’s so disliked overseas that an entirely new word has been coined to describe the prejudice.
I wonder if those American shows are being seen in Europe and, if so, whether they’ll affect Kevinism. Will they exacerbate it? Eradicate it? Hm…
Where do you live, and how do you feel about the name Kevin?
Lots of people name their cars, but how many people name their computers?
A good number, turns out.
Granted, any computer on a network already has a name. But that’s not necessarily the name we’re talking about here. (Though some people do change their computer’s network name to match its “given” name.)
What kinds of names have people chosen for their laptops and desktops? Here are some real-life computer names I’ve collected from around the web:
Aurora: “I named her Aurora. Isn’t she beautiful? Like every really wonderful thing, her outward beauty is a reflection of her deeper goodness.” –MrShad of Conflictium
Avery Cates: “How can you resist this series when the first line of the back cover blurb is “Avery Cates is a very bad man”? I love Avery Cates so much I named my computer after him.” –Melanie of Melanie R. Meadors (blog)
Black Stallion: “As my birthday/Christmas present, I was given a brand new LAPTOP! Vane named him “Black Stallion”. It’s very sleek and black.” –Des of Miss DreamyMarie
Don Juan IV: “Don Juan IV is my laptop. What, you don’t name your computer? That is too bad.” –Heather of The Spohrs Are Multiplying
Dorothy Parker: “Interesting aside: I named my computer Dorothy Parker. It’s probably wishful thinking more than anything else.” –cenobyte of centre of the univerce
Frangus: “Frangus is a beautiful name. It sounds like the name of the lost Weasley child. It evokes images of a tall, rangy, somewhat grungy hunk (think Aragorn-esque) with blazing red hair, a legendary sword, and a breathtaking Scottish accent. It was also, as some may recall, from a Sparticle made of pure awesomeness. It just fit perfectly.” –RabidWrackspurt via SparkLife
Henry & Eli: “I finally have a laptop, after two and half years working on a desktop. Trust me, I loved my desktop but he was hard to live with. Not being able to spend valuable time with him while I worked with my friends in the studios. And yes, I called him a ‘he.’ I named him Henry. But now my laptop is named Eli and he is a gem. I can take him anywhere and I love it! I sound like I had no idea they make computers that can move.” –Catie of Catie Witt (blog)
Holophonor: “All of which is an extended introduction to the announcement of the name of my new MacBook. I’ve dubbed it Holophonor. (…) It’s a musical instrument from Futurama, which produces images as well as music. It’s allegedly incredibly hard to play (although the holophonor recital in one episode suggests a little otherwise) but is capable of intoxicatingly immersive effects.” –James Grimmelmann of The Laboratorium
Hubert: “I named my computer Hubert because it reminds me of Hubert Humphrey, the long time U.S. Senator from Minnesota and Lyndon Johnson’s vice president. For those of you too young to remember, Humphrey was a likeable, compulsive talker who was so eager to please he could become annoying. My computer is like that.” –Gwen Gibson of The Lighter Years
Lafayette: “Lafayette – My current iMac is named for my favorite, and the most well-acted character in HBO’s True Blood.” –Courtney Heard of courtneyheard.com
Lisbeth: “But, before I sign off for tonight, let me introduce you to Lisbeth. (…) Yes, I named my laptop after the hacker survivor extraordinaire from the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She’s a victim who takes her life back, with the power of her intelligence and her trusty computer.” –Erin of Daisies and Bruises
Lucille: “My computer is Lucille; she is a fiery redhead, like Lucille Ball.” –Rachel of Not-so-Plain Jane
Lucy: “I am writing this from my new laptop – a MacBook. Lovely little piece of equipment – I have named her Lucy (as in “Lucy, I’m h-o-m-e”) with the hopes that we will enter into a long-term relationship of mutual respect and understanding.” –mimijk of Waiting for the Karma Truck
Lula: “It was the Romantic me who went to Circuit City and Best Buy, who glazed over as acne-riddled salesboys extolled the virtues of Vaios and Thinkpads, and who eventually fled to do some reading on the subject before spending nearly a month’s salary for a basic, Luddite-friendly model. When I finally got my laptop home, I immediately named her Lula (after my grandmother, who also inspired and terrorized me), then ditched my paper notebook, opened Word, and began writing the new play before even checking out the other programs I had paid for.” –David Valdes Greenwood via The Boston Phoenix
Mandy: “I know you all are wondering why her name is Mandy (ok, maybe you’re not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) When I first got Mandy, she was a beautiful new white Macbook. I had just started dating my Handsome, and he lent me his book of cd’s so I could put new music on my new laptop. Well, lo and behold, what cd did I find buried in with his? Why yes, the cd pictured at the beginning of this post [Mandy Moore’s “So Real”]. I thought this was hysterical, and because it was a white cd and my laptop was white, I named her Mandy. It seemed to fit.” –Kate of Kindly, Kate
Marcus: “i have named him Marcus after the lead singer of my favorite band Mumford & Sons. i was going to call him Lenny because Lenovo, but ever since the movie The Perfect Man, all i can think of when i hear that name is a chubby guy singing a Styx song.” –Leann Elizabeth of A Glass of Leannade
Milo: “My world is currently in a state of crazed shuffling and god-awful box hoarding. My room is now returned to the cold monastic state I found it in and as soon as this post is over so goes Milo the netbook. (Yes I named my computer Milo, no you cannot make fun of me for it). By this time tomorrow I will have returned to my domicile and summer hi-jinks can begin!” –SugaryCynic of Sugary Cynicism
Nox: “It started (…) with me buying a new computer, and this time I went for brand new hardware, top of the line, as I just had gotten my first paycheck from my first real job. And as this was a proper computer, it needed a proper name. And as the casing was black, I went looking for something that resembled darkness and the absence of light. Can you guess which name I ended up with? Probably not if you aren’t very well versed in old Greek and Roman mythology, as the goddess I named my computer after isn’t that famous. I named my computer “Nox”, the Roman name for the Greek goddess Nyx, the primordial goddess of the night.” –Sebastian Storholm of Sebastian’s Blog
Sadie: “Sadie came into my life in March of 2008. She was an HP Pavilion, the first new computer I had purchased in over ten years. Sadie was not my first choice when I was doing research in buying a laptop, but she was quite simply prettier and shinier than the one I had originally picked out, so I bought her instead. I named her Sadie because I had had a dream where I bought a laptop and named it Sexy Sadie, after the Beatles song.” –Gena Radcliffe of You Are Not a Winner
Sally: “My computer, Sally (yes, I named my computer), is almost six years old. While I love her to death, it’s about time to put her down. She’s been good to me, despite all the verbal abuse.” –Marian Schembari of marianlibrarian.com
Serena: “I got Serena back in the winter of 2005, and named her, as I named a lot of my machines, [after] a character in the TV show ‘Roswell’ – actually, an enigmatic reference to a person from the future who was never shown on screen.” –Chris K of The Kelworth Files
SparkyBookPro: “My baby is going into the hospital for outpatient surgery. Actually it’s more like a transplant. SparkyBookPro needs his fan replaced. Yes, I named my computer. Yes, I am a nerd. They are also going to do a bypass of the current battery and transplant a new one in its place. As soon as I am done with this post (and a bit more blog reading), SparkyBookPro will be taken to the facility. He will be gone for two days.” –Kim of Emergiblog
Tardis: “Now, I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a big Whovian. (fan of the British show Dr Who) I named my computer the TARDIS, I have a sonic screwdriver on me at all times, and I bought a pair of Converse because the 10th Doctor wears them. Yes, I am obsessed.” –Jenny of The Eternal Puppy Station
Thusnelda: “How did I choose the name Thusnelda? Well, you see, a month or two ago I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to buy a laptop, and I needed a name. And generously, Angela shared the names of some of her relatives. And when I read Thusnelda, I knew that had to be the one. It is solid, original, and not at all trendy. There aren’t going to be 15 other Thusneldas in a 3-block radius. And the name can’t go out of style, because it was never in style.” –Amber Strocel of strocel.com
Veronica: “She’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bright-eyed, energetic (great battery life), and she even has a cute pattern on her hood. I’ve named her Veronica.” –Jamie of The Appropriate Opinion
Have you named your computer? If so, what’s the name, and why did you choose it?
Linda is clearly the winner here. Linda’s spike in 1947 is like the perfect storm of spikes — the name was already on the rise, and then the song “Linda” became a huge hit right at the beginning of the post–WWII baby boom.
(If the song had been released just one year earlier — which is theoretically possible, as it was written in 1942 — the Linda spike might have been even bigger, as the largest one-year increase in births in U.S. history happened between 1945 and 1946.)
The song “Linda” was created by songwriter Jack Lawrence at the request of his attorney, Lee Eastman, who wanted a song written for his 5-year-old daughter.
Being a good friend, I obliged and wrote a song for five-year-old Linda. When I made the rounds of publishers I met with frustration. Most of them like everything about the song but the name Linda. “Why Linda?” they would ask. “That’s not a popular name”. One guy said: “Call it Ida — after my mother-in-law and I’ll publish it”. I had to remind him there already was an “Ida — Sweet as Apple Cider!” Another maven suggested the name Mandy. He felt that had a more musical ring than Linda.
But Jack stuck with Linda, and the song made musical (and baby name) history.
And 5-year-old Linda Eastman also made musical history, in a sense, by marrying Beatle Paul McCartney in the late 1960s.
Trivia question of the day: Only one girl name ever decreased in popularity by more than 10,000 baby girls over a one-year period. Can you guess the name?