Star Wars: The Baby Names Awaken?
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is a powerhouse at the box office and in toy stores. With its deep cultural roots and cross-generational appeal, it's likely to extend that reach to baby names. After all, even the much-maligned prequels managed to launch the name Anakin onto the top-1,000 baby names chart. My question for the new Star Wars entry is, which names?
After seeing the film with a large multigenerational group, I surveyed my fellow moviegoers for their reactions to the film's key names. Here are the stylemaking odds, counting down from the longest longshot to the likeliest hit. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen "The Force Awakens," get thee to a cinema first then come back and read on.
Image via StarWars.com
The name of the film's biggest, baddest villain earned nothing but eye rolls from my panelists. As one put it, "It doesn't even work for a bad guy."
Odds of taking off as a baby name: 10,000 to 1.
The ancient space pirate Maz Kanata was a favorite with my group, "kind of a woman Yoda." They reluctantly rejected her name, though. The consensus was that Maz "would be a good name for pets, not humans."
Odds: 1,000 to 1.
With the rising popularity of the names Sky and Walker, I thought this name might have legs as a futuristic take on the tradesman style. My panel was having none of it: "It's too specific to the characters."
Odds: 100 to 1.
Could "The Force Awakens" spark a new wave of namesakes for old friend Han Solo? Perhaps not. "It sounds incomplete," one respondent explained. Another summed it up: "If Han hasn't worked yet, it's just not going to work."
Odds: 50 to 1
The name of masked baddie Kylo Ren split the panel along generational lines. The kids and teenagers thought Kylo could catch on as a baby name. "It's a pretty cool villain name, not too villainous." Their grandparents were unconvinced. "It sounds like a brand of laundry detergent or toothpaste," one retiree observed. "Remember Halo Shampoo?" chimed in another, and they sang a duet of the 1950s shampoo sales jingle.
Odds: 8 to 1
"Edgar Allan Poe!" shouted my panelists in unison when I brought up the fighter pilot's name. The literary association wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though. "It could be a winner."
Odds: 2 to 1
Finn is already a fashionable, fast-rising name, and the new Star Wars character could put it over the top. "Finn used to sound super-Irish to me. Associating it with a person of color broadens the image in an appealing way." "It was already a cool name, (Star Wars) makes it even cooler."
The sound of this name was a hit with our whole panel. Notably, the young heroine Rey resonated particularly with the teenage girls. One explained that unlike the rest of the Star Wars universe which she had inherited from previous generations, "she's mine." And better yet, "she wears sensible clothing THE WHOLE TIME!"
The big point of contention was the spelling Rey, like the Spanish word for king. Most didn't care for it, offering alternatives like Rae, Raye, Re and Ray, "like a ray of light." Some liked it best as a middle name. In one form or another, though, look for Rey to rise for girls in the years ahead.
Odds: Bet on it.