Celebrity Names Blog

Super Size Me Director Explores Names in Freakonomics Film

Last week, the movie Freakonomics, based on the bestselling book of the same name, hit theaters. The documentary is a collection of short films by different directors, each exploring whether or not a popular myth holds up under scrutiny. Morgan Spurlock, who is best known for his 28-day McDonald's diet in Super Size Me, tackles the commonly held belief that a child's name shapes his destiny in the segment "A Roshanda by Any Other Name."

The primary example he uses is a little girl who is given the name Temptress and as an adult becomes a promiscuous criminal. The experts eventually conclude that a child given such a loaded name is also more likely to be raised in a household with many other problems, which will significantly and negatively impact the child's future. In other words, socio-economic status has a far greater influence on how a child grows up than what's on his birth certificate. Not an earth-shattering revelation.

More interesting for our purposes is why Spurlock chose to tackle this particular myth. He claims it started with his son, three-year-old Laken James. Spurlock and his longtime girlfriend, vegan chef Alexandra Jamieson, named their son after Spurlock's great great uncle. But very few of their family and friends approved of their choice. The many disapproving reactions they received piqued Spurlock's interest in further exploring the influence of names.

Spurlock himself is well aware of what it means to be saddled with an unpopular name; his middle name is Valentine. He has said that he dreaded the first day of a new school year when teachers read every student's full name aloud. Unlike, Valentino, which is the name of one of Ricky Martin's twin boys, Valentine works as a name for both boys and girls. But it lacks macho edge and can make a child, especially a little boy, an easy target on the school yard.

It strikes us that in addition to the name Valentine, Morgan, his girlfriend Alex and their son Laken all have names that work equally well for either a boy or girl. We wonder too if Laken's middle name, James, was inspired by his mom's last name, Jamieson. If so, we like this twist on giving a child his mother's maiden name. 

What do you think? Do you like the name Laken? What about Valentine? And what about Spurlock's short film? Do you agree with his conclusion or do you think that names really do play a role in how successful a person becomes? Has your name helped or hindered you?



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October 12, 2010 1:21 PM
By Alison (not verified)

Laken is fine. Valentine is over the top. My name is Alison and it hasn't hindered or helped me in any way I know of. Recently I met a boy named Culler and another boy named Byer. The names sound like Color and Buyer. To me, those are poorly chosen names. I wonder what other people here think of naming a child something that sounds like a word.

October 12, 2010 2:37 PM
By A Kentucky Belle (not verified)

Well my daughter's name is Jurnee and everyone seems to thin it's very pretty and unique. She's alot of fun too. So far it hasn't hindered her any. I agree, it's how a child is raised and their home environment. Heck, my daughter is actually named after an Actress (Jurnee Smollett) who is successful and very bright-you won't find her in the tabloids for drug use etc. So that's my 2 cents.

Lots of names sound alike..or sound like other words...I think that's the fun of creating names.. actually I bet that those 2 kids Byer and Cullen were given last names as first names.

October 12, 2010 4:51 PM
By Trendy Named Mama (not verified)

I have a dated (primarily to the decade previous to the one in which I was born), trendy, nick-name name (Carrie). I've always done well in school (graduated with honors for my Bachelors), had a good social life, and been able to get a good job without too much trouble. In my opinion, the socio-economic status, education, parenting style they were raised with, and life experience of a person have a much greater influence on 'life outcomes'. The person makes the name.
Laken is nms, and I would assume it was a girl, but it's not terrible. Valentine is a goofy middle name for a boy.

October 12, 2010 6:14 PM
By Kate C (not verified)

I want to stick up for Valentine! If we'd had a boy, he would have been Charles Valentine, named after my husband's grandfather, who was born on Feb 14. It's a fine old name with Roman origins.

October 12, 2010 8:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love Valentine for a boy. Besides the heart-day connotations, it has a very masculine sound. I would be thrilled to see more Valentines around!

October 13, 2010 4:37 AM
By The Foxymoron (not verified)

The first time I heard Valentine as a boy's name, I must admit I raised an eyebrow. He was the son of very posh British people. The name grew on me.
The name derives from the Latin word for strong, and St Valentine was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples when it was a crime, hence St Valentines Day being a celebration of love. This meaning behind the name makes it even more appealing, in my opinion.
One of my friends recently used the name Valentine for her son, and I really love it. It is a gorgeous name, very unexpected, but also familiar to everyone - no problems with spellings etc! And there is always the nickname Val - like Val Kilmer. Love it.

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