First and foremost, we must say goodbye to all the future Atticuses. It turns out that the good lawyer, so grandly and deftly humanized in “TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” by Harper Lee, may not have been so good in the end. That is if Harper Lee actually wrote “GO SET A WATCHMAN”, or even intended for it to be released in it’s current state…
Because in this second novel, the father, lawyer and all-American hero (Atticus Finch) is a paternalized racist later in his fictional life. Much to the chagrin of all my fellow liberal arts, English lit, and college drama majors who named their sons (and daughters) after him.
College film majors also have a list of characters to avoid as they are engrained in our American wheelhouse. Like the incredibly familiar names of the last few years’ favorite heroines – Katniss Everdeen (THE HUNGER GAMES) and Lisbeth Salander (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO). All four of these names which should be avoided for at least a decade. But 10-plus years from now these gal names and perhaps even Rocky or Balboa might make great considerations for a new baby girl in your life.
Same holds true for political names such as Mitt, Jeb, Trump and Hillary. One of those last two may have a resurgence in 2016 but really the only safe political name to give your child as we ring in the new year (or at least until this column is published) is Angela. Do avoid Merkel, though, as it’s too close to Urkel. And that character from FAMILY MATTERS, should never be brought to life again.
But for parents on the hunt for an avant-guard, meaningful, bordering pretentious baby name (says a woman with one daughter named Sawyer and another named Coco) oldies but goodies from big films of years ago – are a gold mine to pick through. As long as they have had that appropriate gestation period of 10 plus years.
For instance Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou in 2001, sounds delightful. As does Trinity and even Ripley since THE MATRIX and all the ALIEN’s have only been on Netfilx in this decade. And Matrix himself, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in COMMANDO circa 1985 is probably free and clear as well as Snake from ESCAPE FROM NY and Indiana from all the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK movies (as the last one was not box office magic.) The world is also probably ready for a Ferris, to conjure up images of child living exactly in the moment – since the one made so real by both John Hughes and Matthew Broderick was born three decades ago.
But the pinnacle of meaningful character names that will most likely be cropping up in 2016 – come from two major categories. One is just the creations of Quentin Tarantino who may be the best moniker-maker ever. Three personal favorites are Elle (as in Elle Driver from 2003’s KILL BILL: Vol 1) and Vega (as in Vincent Vega from 1994’s PULP FICTION) right along along with Broomhilda (as in Broomhilda von shaft from 2012’s DJANGO UNCHAINED 2012). Although I don’t recommend this last one due to short time period and the name will be hard to sell on anyone who doesn’t look like Kerry Washington.
The second category comes that will be immensely popular next year comes from a galaxy far far away. I already know a Luke Sky Walker – and I bet, he will not be alone if you know any parents with the last name Walker. He also will soon have friends in the sandbox named Han or Vader. Despite the bad guy rep of one and the hairiness of the other. They’re just too cool as names.
Finally, as this year comes to a close, I can only hope to see more of a name that is not only timeless and hero worthy but also impossible to rewrite as Philip Van Doren Stern cannot return to the typewriter and pull an “Atticus Finch”. Here is to all the future Bailey’s, male or female – as in George Bailey from ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE. And to each of them having one.