“Twilight” Deadens Our Souls and Pervades Our Culture: Top Baby Names of 2009


I won’t try to hide the fact that I have seen the two Twilight movies and I’m likely to see the upcoming third installment. I even went so far as to read the first book, and kept stopping to rant to my friends about what horrible writing it was. My point is, I’m hip to the cultural phenomenon that Stephenie Meyer unleashed on the world.

However, the depth of my cultural awareness did not prepare me for the disturbing news that soccer moms have been doing more than devouring the books and movies with fantastic abandon. No, apparently these mommies are extending the vampiric reach of the “literature” by naming their poor, innocent babies after the Twilight characters.

According to the Social Security Baby Names site, Isabella became the most popular girls’ name in the U.S in 2009. (For those of you not in the know, Isabella Swan, a.k.a. Bella, is the main character’s name in the Twilight series.) I think Isabella is a perfectly beautiful name. My only annoyance is that these girls now have a namesake who is a bland shell of a literary character. I’ll spare you my usual rant about how Bella’s character is composed of weakness, insecurity, and reliance on men for happiness. Simply put, it’s a crying shame that 22,067 baby girls were named after a wet paper bag of a character in a poorly written romance novel series.

Jacob was the top boys name in 2009. (Jacob Black is a werewolf and is also Bella’s unrequited love interest in the series.) In this case, Jacob has been the most popular boys’ name for 11 years. Thus, it’s more likely that the pre-existing popularity of the name Jacob influenced Meyer’s naming of the werewolf and not that the dreamy ab-tastic character made the name a popular choice for mommies.

A surprising blip on the Twilight naming radar is that Cullen moved up the charts 300 spots to the 485th most popular boy name. (Cullen is the last name of the vampire family in the series.) It is an unusual name, and for that I tip my hat to mommies brave enough bestow it upon their sons. But, I wonder how many little boys are going to be explaining to their kindergarten teachers four years from now that it’s Cullen, c-u-l-l-e-n, not Collin!

I was surprised that Edward didn’t even make the top 10 for boys’ names. (Edward Cullen is Bella’s pale-skinned vampire lover.) Edward’s character is most certainly the focal point of the novels. He is described in excruciating and often trite detail, and the mere mention of his name makes teen girls and middle-aged women swoon across the country. Despite the character’s popularity, the name Edward has remained relatively constant in its popularity in the 140s and 130s for over a decade.

Perhaps mommies everywhere really are more avidly members of Team Jacob than they are of Team Edward!? Well, at least when it comes to naming their baby boys, that is. But really, if one grows up to be a sparkly vampire and the other grows up to be a moody werewolf, is one name a better choice than the other?


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