I don’t think we even knew Anne Hathaway was having a boy, so that was a fun surprise. Then I read the name – like a lot of people, I was quite surprised. Anne was born in 1982, so chances are she went to school with a lot of Jonathans herself—in my mind, it’s now a ‘Dad name’, not unlike Adam, Jonathan’s actual dad. Definitely not what I was expecting: I predicted she would choose something from Shakespeare, and I really thought I was spot on.
It’s not what I would have chosen, either, but other than being familiar, what can you criticize about Jonathan? Nothing, really. (‘Rosebanks’ is apparently a portmanteau of her grandparents’ surnames.) And that’s when things began to get a little weird.
Everywhere I looked, there were comments like “Thank God Anne Hathaway chose a normal name!”, or “so THRILLED to hear a normal name from Hollywood for once!”, and “Good to see a celeb finally choose a regular name for their child”. “Jonathan sounds traditional and normal, unlike some…”
The more I read, the grosser I felt.
What does that mean, a ‘normal’ name? A ‘regular’ name? Why does it make you so happy to see that she’s chosen one? Because it’s close to names you have, names in your family, names you chose for your children? Because it makes you feel closer to a celebrity? That would be fair enough, but then why weren’t you cheering about Freddie Reign? About Elsie Otter? Hell, why weren’t you clapping for Ivanka Trump?
I have this uncomfortable feeling that ‘traditional’ and ‘normal’ are standing in for ‘not culturally unfamiliar, which makes me feel icky.’ There’s something about the outpouring of excitement that tells me this cheering isn’t about a backlash against the name Apple, but against Esmeralda Gosling. Or Phoenix and Lennox Bosh. Or Cy Aridio and Bowie Ezio, Zoe Saldana’s twins. There’s something about the cheering for Jonathan that feels like a cheer for going back to the ‘good old days’, and it’s gross.
I want to be clear that I don’t think that’s why Hathaway and Shulman chose the name—quite the opposite. But the reaction has left a bit of an odd taste in my mouth. I’d love to be wrong, but I’m not sure I am.
Lainey PS. Like Annie, Duana also has a boy. She writes about naming him in her new book, The Name Therapist. Click here to order!