Let's pretend we're at Hollywood High, circa 2023 — and pity the poor teacher who's taking attendance. Apple? Banjo? Coco? Shiloh Nouvel? Suri? Pilot Inspektor? Kal-el? Moxie CrimeFighter?
Wait a minute. Is this a classroom or a superhero convention?
As you've no doubt noticed, for the rich and famous these days, naming babies has become an exercise in creativity. Or is it a competitive sport — a great, big "Can you top this" contest?
Once upon a time, most stars gave their kids nice, down-to-earth names. Bing Crosby christened his Gary, Phillip, Lindsay, Dennis, Harry, Nathaniel and Mary Frances. Even eight-time bride Elizabeth Taylor, who had no problem flaunting convention, named her kids Michael, Christopher, Liza and Maria.
Nowadays, there's not a John or Mary in the (Malibu beach) house.
What's the harm, some ask? Even Shakespeare famously asked, "What's in a name?"
Others focus on the larger challenges a celebrity kid will face.
If, for example, millions of people saw your dad declare his love for your mom while jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch, it's a safe bet that the name on your birth certificate will not be your biggest problem in life.
In fact, little Suri Cruise — infant daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes — actually has one of the more normal-sounding of the celebrity-baby names.
Consider the other members of that aforementioned class: Moxie CrimeFighter (daughter of Penn Jillette); Apple Blythe Alison (daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin), and most bizarre of all, Nicolas Cage's not-quite-1-year-old son, Kal-el.
Now, where have we heard that name before? Oh, that's right. Kal-el was the Kryptonian birth name of Superman.
Why do celebrities do it? Why make it even harder than it already is for their kids to feel normal?
"I don't think they're topping each other per se, but I think it's an exercise in creativity," says Danielle Friedland, publisher of popular Celebrity-babies.com (www.celebrity-babies. com). "Someone who grew up as a non-celebrity may not have loved their name. If your name is Rachel, you may want to give your kid a jazzier name. You think they're special, and you want the world to know that — and that you're really special."
To be fair, it's not just celebs who do this to their kids. Actors Rainn Wilson ("The Office") and Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") were born to non-celebrity parents.
"My mom, who's British, had this flower fairy book from the 1800s, and she loved it," explains Montgomery, who has four sisters that also have flower names. "I think she just sort of picked them out of that."
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