It’s funny how a simple thing as a nomenclature can take a life of its own, then subsequently affect so many others with the same name.
In 1997 American singer Erykah Badu bade the soon-to-be ex-lover protagonist of her classic song to call his friend for assistance in moving his belonging out of their shared domicile. Or in simple words “I think you’d better call Tyrone (call him), And tell him come on help you get your shit…”
“Tyrone” was a major hit for Ms. Badu. Unfortunately, it was also a major pain for every male named Tyrone, where those not paying attention to the lyrics mistook “Tyrone” for the lover getting the boot.
For many the word chad is a nonsense word worthy of Lewis Carroll. However, many others know Chad is also a proper name. There are a few known well known Chads out there now – Chad Kroeger of the band Nickelback, Chad Lowe – brother of fellow actor Rob Lowe, NFL’s Chad Pennington of the NY Jets, and seriously giving away my vintage here, actor Chad Everett from the 70’s TV show Medical Center.
However, in the 2000 U.S. presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the fate of the presidency hinged on tiny slivers of paper called “chads” as in “hanging chads”, “butterfly chads” and even “pregnant chads”. These chads became the source of much controversy in the state of Florida and across the nation in 2000 — which eventually swung the presidential election to George W. Bush despite the popular vote going to Al Gore. They became the most famous, well infamous, of all Chads to the chagrin of all others.
Tyrone and Chad specifically come to mind because anyone named Tyrone or Chad had to suffer the slings and arrows of jokes from late night talk hosts and regular folks for a very long time afterward until the ever-fickle public found new fodder to set flame. And this happened in a world before “memes’ were truly a thing. While “hanging chads” has fallen out of use except as a mark of U.S. electoral history, Tyrone has managed to (ma)linger on to become if not memes, at least gifs that can me used when someone needs to “call him.”
A video of a little boy, clearly copying the mannerisms of his father, became viral when telling his mother to “Listen Linda..” while trying to get out of the trouble he was in. “Listen Linda” became the bane of every woman named Linda. But not just them, any form of Linda in the name was fair game: Malinda, Belinda, Calinda etc. They all caught a piece of the nonsense.
And can you imagine how every Charlie Brown felt when that classic by The Coasters song came out?
Some name memes like Chad and Linda understandably die out when the oft repeated “joke” stops being funny and becomes passé. Sometimes, other names resurrect. “Bye Felica” made infamous from the 1995 Ice Cube movie Friday had a short resurgence in use with the 25th Anniversary of its release in 2020. It has since died down again but let’s see what happens in a few years at its 30th Anniversary.
Then there are the Karen and Becky and Shaniqua type names each with their own mostly negative archetypes that at best amuse and at worst annoy those that bear the names. And yes, I do note the lack of equivalent male names here that have not taken a toehold in the way the female names have. An angry white man is an angry white man, but an angry white woman is a “Karen.”
I feel for the innocents who share/bear names with memes. I know a Chad, a Karen, a Linda and a Felicia in real life. I now try to avoid the use of the names in conversation that is not about the actual person out of respect, because I completely get how this Twitter user must feel:
And all of the above just to say, last night I finally watched the Disney movie Encanto that reminds everyone “We don’t talk about Bruno. No. No. No.”
Now I understand all the annoying TikToks, Facebook posts et al, that have emerged in recent weeks and thus, a new name gets to added to the meme list.
I feel for to all you Brunos out there who will, like Tyrone, hear your name (badly) sung for the future.
Come see what others are slicing about this Tuesday.