Meet Joe baby

Last month, The New York Times reported that Nevaeh has become the fastest-growing baby name in the history of the United States—at least since the Social Security Administration began keeping records of such things.

You’ll notice that Nevaeh, a name usually reserved for girls, is not really a name. It is “heaven” spelled backward. It is also an indication that the MTV generation is having children and looking to people like Sonny Sandoval, the born-again Christian lead singer of the band P.O.D., for help naming them. In 1999, a year before Sandoval appeared on MTV with his baby daughter, Nevaeh, only eight other girls in the United States had been thusly christened. Last year? 4,457.

Well, baby-name inspiration has to come from somewhere, and pop culture is everywhere. Still: P.O.D.? “Payable On Death”? A band with lyrics like “Last day of the rest of my life / I wish I would’ve known / ’Cause I didn’t kiss my mama goodbye”? Seriously?

It’s no surprise, but it probably should be pointed out again anyway, that star-fucking in this country has gotten way out of hand. It is one thing, if you can’t literally fuck a star, to go and name your kid after one (Audrey, anyone?), but it’s something else altogether to name your kid after a star’s kid.

And why Nevaeh, of all (non) names? Does Sandoval’s status as a born-again rocker somehow make the made-up moniker more acceptable? In a secular, media-mongrelized culture, are we so turned around about ways of worship that we must resort to branding our kids with some wrong-side-out idea of paradise?

Surely, none of this was on young Sonny’s mind when he took what must, at the time, have seemed like a fairly original idea and turned it into, um, something else. Now there is so much Nevaeh in the world that sooner or later, frankly, there will be Lleh to pay.

Perhaps it doesn’t seem like an emergency just yet, but try to imagine what life will be like in a few years, when our preschools are swarming with little Suris, and we find ourselves saddled with the collective responsibility for having consecrated the offspring of Katie Holmes. Talk about your Social Security crisis.

To be sure, it’s not just average American Joes and Joannes doing the celebrity rub-up. Take the entire nation of Namibia. More than half of that country’s population agreed that the birth of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s daughter deserved a public holiday. Well, of course young Shiloh deserves a holiday; she is, after all, the spawn of Brangelina. (And, to be fair, the couple donated more than 300 grand to Namibia hospitals.) She also deserves a better name. But what are you going to do?

What you’re probably going to do, at least some of you, is name your children after her. You’re not helping.