Okay, so we all know that celebrities get a lot of flack for whatever they do. If they gain weight, they’re either obese or pregnant; if they lose weight, they’re anorexic; if they ignore the paparazzi, they’re rude; if they invite the paparazzi, they’re needy. At the end of the day we can all feel okay about it because they’re richer and prettier than we are, and if we had their kind of money and looks, we would find a way to put up with all the baggage that came with it. We all pretty much believe that they brought it on themselves.

But what about when they bring it onto someone else—namely, their kids? Odds are you won’t find many stars who don’t fiercely maintain that they want their children kept out of the same spotlight they constantly have to dodge. Like every parent, they want their kids to grow up in a normal household and, most of the time, these celebs hope their children fit it into polite society without ever thinking they’re too “different.” So please tell me why so many stars brand their poor, unsuspecting kids with names that not only determine that they will stand out from their peers (and not in a good way), but pretty much guarantee they will be mercilessly mocked for at least a short period of their early lives, if not long afterward.

Actually, I have a few theories. They boil down to this: the things celebrities say they want for their kids may not be entirely true. They don’t want their children to be “normal.” They want their kids to be just like them—people who stand out in a crowd, and not always for meritorious reasons. Everyone hopes their child will turn out to be smarter, prettier, or more talented than the crowd, but a far less common parental aspiration is to sire the only kid in the class with the name Pilot Inspektor. Unless you’re Jason Lee, of course. These stars are so desperately accustomed to receiving (sometimes unwarranted) attention that they can’t imagine how their kids will navigate life without basking in the same. We can assume that this urge is largely subconscious—any acknowledgement of it would indicate advanced levels of self-awareness that would probably preempt the urge to impart an absurd name to an undeserving newborn in the first place. Hence, they can’t exactly be blamed for their shortsightedness. If anything, we—the public that hangs on celebs’ every word and gesture—should take a long, hard look in the mirror and consider ourselves personally responsible for condemning some poor little girl to a lifetime of coping with the name “Destry” (the lucky daughter of Steven Spielberg). I don’t even know how to pronounce that, yet I take full responsibility for it because I absolutely love his movies and think he might be touched by genius. Sorry, Destry.

Here’s another twist: somehow I find it easier to stomach when celebrities who already have weird names give their kids weirder names. For reasons I admit are completely indefensible, I am more inclined to forgive Penn Jillette (from Penn and Teller) for naming his daughter “Moxie Crimefighter” than I am Rob Morrow for selecting “Tu” (think about it for a second.) Besides, who doesn’t want to have “Moxie?” Bono’s choice of “Memphis Eve” is also okay. At least both are words, and that poor man had to live with Sonny’s last name all his life, even if it is pronounced differently. On the other hand, I cannot, in good conscience, stand behind David Duchovny and Tea Leoni choosing “Kyd” just to give themselves a laugh when they have to reprimand him. Yes, I know that “Tea” is not the most normal name in the world, but “David” is downright biblical. Same goes for Angelina and Brad’s “Shiloh.” They can’t identify with what they’ve done. And when the son of Nicolas Cage (who scores a few points for sporting a different spelling and suffering with the middle name, “Kim”), “Kal-El” comes home from school in tears because someone on the playground made fun of him, it’s not like Daddy can comfort him with tales of how he went through the very same thing. Sure, Julia Roberts might have replaced the “e” that ended her first name with an “a,” but both names are normal, and “Phinnaeus” is not. Neither is “Apple,” Gwyneth. I’m sorry—I know Ms. Paltrow suffers the brunt of the “weird celebrity baby names” criticism, but I’m afraid she deserves it. On a different note, I have to say I’m on the fence when it comes to Forest Whitaker’s son, “Ocean.” I mean, I’ve definitely heard the word “Forest” used as proper noun, but not too often.

Of course, one can point out the obvious and suggest that this entire rant stems from a place of resentment. These celebrities have it all—do they really need more attention than what they’ve already got? Tom and Katie can name their daughter “Suri” and that just makes them quirky and a little bit cute. But if I—godforbid—name my son “Cellulite” or my daughter “Fence Post,” I’m just a freakin’ whacko. Now ask yourself if that’s fair.

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