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Feb./Mar. '04 Articles:
Collateral Damage
Editorial: Dissent Under Siege
Notes from the Cultural Wasteland
The Muddlemarch: 1
The Muddlemarch: 2
3rd Parties
Blood on Your Back
A Kid by Any Other Name ...
(music reviews)

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This Child Brought To You By A Grant
From The Ford Corp.

by Adam Finley

An article published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last December documented the recent trend of naming children after brand names. For the past several years, more and more parents have given their children names like "Lexus," "Disney," "Armani," and "V8 Splash With Beta Carotene." Ironically, parents are giving their children these names because they believe it instills a sense of individuality in them. This doesn't say much for the parents, but it does say a lot for corporations who have ingeniously concocted the delusion that a child with a name that can be found written, illustrated, spoken, marketed, and broadcast from every possible medium is somehow iconoclastic.

You can't force individuality onto a child. It's something the child has to develop on his own. You can name your child "Aquaman Wolfgang Taylor" but that's no guarantee he's going to grow up with the same love for graphic novels and classical music that you did. If you desire a creature molded to your personal tastes, you can always adopt a dog. Trust me, a cocker spaniel won't care that his name is "Kleenex."

These days, the most outlandish thing parents can do is to name their newborn "Charles." Sure, naming your newborn "Charles" might cause people to actually pay attention to the baby rather than you for coming up with a clever name like "Radio Flyer," you self-centered bastard, but that's the point. When a child's name is of little or no consequence, the child can explore and grow and develop as a human being without the constant nagging feeling that, with the name "Prancer Q-Tip Worthington," he should probably listen to punk music.

I've known people over the years who have given their children names of historical figures or sports legends, perhaps with the hopes of their children growing up with the determination of Stonewall Jackson, or the fervor of Muhammad Ali. I assume someone would name their child "K-Mart" for similar reasons, perhaps wishing that someday their child would have her insides buffed and polished by a crew of underpaid illegal immigrants on a nightly basis.

Children often suffer for who their parents are, and as difficult as it may be to accept, Yamaha Hershey Lincoln, your parents are deluded, solipsistic cretins and their warped sense of reality will affect you for the rest of your days. Since children are the innocent parties in this situation, I recommend either of these two remedies:

1. Don't name your children at all

2. Let your children name themselves

While I think not having names would stop us from turning into corporate slaves and accelerate our stilted evolution as a species, it is more than a little unrealistic. Therefore, children should be allowed to name themselves. If the child happens to choose a corporate name, that's his or her prerogative, but at least they'll be choosing a life of blissful idiocy and not having it thrust upon them.

Per example: An American soldier stationed in Iraq actually changed his name to Optimus Prime. This was not some name forced upon him by myopic parents wishing to ingrain their love of shape-shifting automobiles into their son. No, Optimus Prime searched deep inside himself and discovered that his birth name did not do him justice.

I surmise his parents may have wanted him to have the name "Optimus Prime" all along, but chose not to force the issue:

Mom: I think we should name him "Optimus Pr–"

Dad: Hold it. You know how much little "Omega Supreme" hates her name.

Mom: She needed a Decepticon name, the doctor told us that when he did my ultrasound.

Dad: No daughter of mine is going to have the name "Thundercracker!"

Mom: Well she hates her name, now.

Dad: We could change it to "Pathfinder."

Mom: Oh yeah, let's name her after a frickin' Go-Bot, that's REALLY cool.

Dad: Maybe we're going about this the wrong way. Perhaps we should look beyond popular '80s toys, since this is the early '70s.

Mom: We both like the smell of Pine-Sol.

Dad: No, I have a cousin named Pine-Sol.

Considering how easy it is to breed, adopt, or just find kids at amusement parks and shopping malls and raise them as your own, this trend of bestowing "clever" names upon children will most likely never cease. However, children often rebel against the name given to them as a way of spiting their parents. Therefore, anyone who wishes their son or daughter to bring peace and civility to this world would be wise to name them "Hitler." Or even better: "Bubble Yum Hitler."

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Other articles by Adam Finley: