Sunday, December 7, 2008

Taking corporatism too far

Legislators in Sacramento have narrowly passed a new law that will allow parents to legally give their newborn children corporate names in exchange for advertising fees. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already said he would sign the bill.

Parents who are willing to name their kids Canon, Nikon, Chrysler, or Coke can earn up to $100,000 in special 18-year bonds that can be cashed when the child enters a two- or four-year college or university. 

"I got the idea from my nanny Mercedes," said bill sponsor State Senator Art Williamson (R-Studio City), "who has spent her whole life advertising luxury German automobiles without seeing a penny." Now, says Williamson, expectant parents wishing to name their child Mercedes can petition Daimler-Benz to see how much money they can get for naming their daughter (or son) after the famed nameplate. 

Corporate monikers that already sound like given names, such as Ted (airline), Popeye (chicken), Domino (pizza), or Victoria (secrets) are less likely to bring in large sums. "It's the gutsy parents who name their kids Amtrak, Fedex, or Microsoft that are going to rake in the dough," says Williamson.

"Shit!" responded an angry Gwyneth Paltrow during a telephone interview. "If only we'd waited a few more years to name our kid Apple." Ms. Paltrow says she and her husband will instead have to seek other means to pay for their daughter's university tuition.

With the economy going into total meltdown, expect more parents to try to make ends meet by using corporate personal names as a way to eliminate the need to save for their child's future. Williamson says such innovate ideas will see Americans through the financial crisis. 

Fashion prognosticators believe that monosyllabic tough-guy names like Fox, Bud, and Red (after the do-gooder anti-AIDS campaign that is the brainchild of U2 frontman BozoBono) are expected to make a comeback for the first time since 1962.

The bill was not without its critics. Opponents successfully worked out a compromise that allowed for disgruntled children not wishing to spend their lives as Coors or Staples to legally change their name before reaching adulthood without losing all of the contracted fee. 

When the California statehouse reconvenes in January, these critics also plan to push through an amendment to the new law that would ban corporate logo tattoos on the face or limbs of children younger than five. 

[left: "Dammit!" exclaimed out-of-work comedic actor Chevy Chase when asked about the new law, which only applies to newborns. "I really could use the money."] 

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