Crazy Celebrity Names: But are they really?

The saner side of celebrity names

By Meredith Testa, namenculture

Celebrities are notorious for giving their children outrageous baby names. Lists of so-called crazy celebrity baby names pop up often, and with examples like North West (shown) and Blue Ivy topping them, it’s easy to see why they spread like wildfire. But I’m not convinced that celebrities are any crazier than the rest of us in their naming choices. One man’s crazy is another man’s cute, and there are lots of reasons celebrity names may seem stranger than they actually are:

Celebrities are just as likely to choose “normal” names as the rest of us- Plenty of them choose popular or traditional names. The Beckhams’ youngest is called Harper (a Top 10 name) and Brad and Angelina have a Vivienne. For every Frank Zappa (father of Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva), there’s a Dennis Quaid (father of Jack, Thomas, and Zoe).

Those “crazy names” are actually often just hip – If Amber, Hazel, Sage, and Violet make perfectly acceptable girl names, what’s so wrong with Blue? If West and Easton are trendy, is North really that outrageous? Celebrities will often take a trend to a new level, but it’s rare for them to pick a name completely out of left field.

Sometimes they’re just ahead of the curve- Julia Roberts’ choice of Hazel for her daughter in 2004 was seen as a bit crazy, but at #63, Hazel is positively trendy now. The same phenomenon has occurred with many celebrity baby names, from Ava to Maddox.

The middle may throw us off- The Beckhams got a lot of flack for Harper’s middle name, Seven. But middle names are almost never used, and they’re a great place to put a name that you like or have a sentimental connection to, but may be too “weird” for a first.

Celebrities are creative, artistic people who live very unusual lives, so their naming choices will often reflect that: Do you really think being named North West will be the strangest part of being Kimye’s child? Or that Blue Ivy’s name will ever bar her from a job? Celebrities don’t lead normal lives or associate with tons of “regular” people. I doubt Zuma will be made fun of for his name when he’s at the playground with Knox and Bear.

A few examples of what I consider not-crazy crazy names:

Moxie Crimefighter and Zolten (Penn Jillette)- Jillette has explained this choice. In his words, “I think it’s pretty cruel to give your kid a name that others are going to have…I love the name Moxie, I love that’s it’s a purely American word, and those are rare, and I love that it stands for old fashioned spunk and energy. EZ [Jillette’s wife, Emily] pushed for her middle name, ‘CrimeFighter,’ because EZ doesn’t have a middle name and thinks middle names are stupid. So, it’s just a joke. When she gets pulled over by the police she can show her license and say, ‘We’re on the same side, officer, my middle name is CrimeFighter.’” Zolten is Jillette’s wife Emily’s maiden name.

Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee)- This one is a combination of numbers 2 and 4. Pilot isn’t tremendously different from other popular occupational names like Archer and Mason. Potential nickname Pi seems as wearable as Kai, Cy, or Ty. With Inspektor, Pilot seems a bit odd, but perhaps Lee’s attitude toward middle names was similar to Penn Jillette’s.

Moon Unit (Frank Zappa)- Zappa was an originator of crazy celebrity baby names. But daughter Moon’s name may not be so weird- word names have been used throughout history (Heather, Mason, Chance, Grace, Axel, Petunia…) so picking an extant word isn’t such a nutty idea. Moon shares a sound with names like Jude, and with Luna so trendy, its translation may not be so outrageous.

KalEl (Nicholas Cage)- Yes, KalEl is Superman. But it also hits on a lot of trends: the Kal (or Cal) syllable is fairly common and makes appearances in more popular names like Caleb and Callum. “El” is trending for girls in names like Ella and Eliana. Put the two together, and you get a name that’s not so far away from Callen or Calix.

Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow)- Botanical names for girls are ubiquitous: from Jasmine and Lily to Rosemary and Olive; plant related names are and always have been in style. Apple is just a nontraditional one. Possible nickname Appy is similar to Abby and Addie, and the –le ending echoes names like Mabel and Hazel, so perhaps Apple doesn’t deserve all the criticism it gets either.

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5 Responses to “Crazy Celebrity Names: But are they really?”

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TheUsernameWasAlreadyTaken Says:

February 27th, 2017 at 4:53 am

In the celebrity world, you can name your child whatever you want with no consequences. And this is because, as parents, they have enough money and fame to shield their offspring from the harshness of reality. The real world operates far differently, and I guarantee that a ‘normal’ little boy named Moon Unit or a ‘normal’ little girl named North West would have a very hard time – not just at school but in the working world, where your name is not only expected to indicate your upbringing and social class, but is also taken as a sign of how professional you are.

So you can attempt to justify the odd and sometimes downright inappropriate name choices that some celebrities make, but at the end of the day, ‘explaining’ them and attempting to give them reason does not in any way shape or form transform a choice like Apple or Pilot Inspektor into a realistic name option for your average parent or child. And that said, no matter how you try to justify them, at the end of the day they’re still dumb choices that come across as the celeb-parents treating their children like toys or commodities rather than living beings deserving of respect.

beynotce Says:

February 27th, 2017 at 10:11 am

I love this. Apple, Moxie, and Pilot are on the edge, but they really aren’t completely out of left field. They’re also names that aren’t going to scar anybody for life – especially given the social circles of these kids/families. The famous bestowers of both Apple and Moxie have spoken publicly about choosing names that brought to mind values/feelings that they wanted/felt for their daughters. This is a perfectly lovely reason to choose a name. The names that bother me a little more are the ones like Crimefighter and Kal-El–I love creative, unusual, and meaningful names, but not using your child’s name as an opportunity to make a joke. A name is often the first gift you give your child, and I don’t think it should be a gag gift.

ladimon Says:

February 27th, 2017 at 11:33 am

I don’t think it’s appropriate to make your child’s name a joke. You’re not the one who has to live with it and explain it to people.

jtucker Says:

February 28th, 2017 at 12:54 pm

I agree that celebrities live a different life than those in the real world, in real life kids would experience issues having names like the ones given to some celebrity kids.

I don’t have as much of an issue of using outlandish names in the middle, as we usually don’t call people their entire names.

Agree that using it as a joke is ridiculous as they, the parents, aren’t the ones that have to use the name. However, at least they can change their name as an adult if they don’t like it.

southern.maple Says:

February 28th, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I agree with the previous commenters. A child’s name is not the place to crack a joke. While North, Moon, and Moxie aren’t terrible names, North West, Moon Unit, and Moxie Crimefighter are jokes. Thankfully, these children were born into wealth and fame and will never have to worry about being taken seriously in a job interview.

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