To add to what has already been an utterly surreal year, Elon Musk announced the birth of his child with his partner, the singer Grimes. As much of a nightmare to type as it is to read, Baby X Æ A-12 was welcomed into the world to protestations of irresponsible parenting, only to have Musk post an unusual baby picture, complete with an overlay of tattoos, a few hours later. It’s interesting, to say the least.
If you looked at that mish-mash of letters and nothing came to your head, I don’t blame you. I have to refrain from simply inserting ‘beep-boop beep-boop baby’ in the hopes that people know who I’m talking about. The name is far from conventional, with even the parents disagreeing on the pronunciation. Musk confirmed on a podcast that it’s pronounced “X Ash Archangel”, while according to Grimes it is pronounced “X-A-I”. This unusual name seems to have crossed a line for many people, sparking controversy over whether parents should be able to name their children whatever they want. In my opinion, X Æ A-12 isn’t much worse than Jamie Oliver’s line-up of sickly-sweet names for his children, which include Petal Blossom Rainbow and River Rocket Blue. Yes, I understand that they’re different, but are celebrities striving too hard to be unique?
Several countries have naming laws. In Germany, names have to be approved by the local registration office, with the rules being that the name has to indicate gender, it cannot be a last name or product, and it cannot negatively affect the child. However, I think that this is an entirely subjective take on baby-naming, which can be a hugely personal act. After all, what’s in a name? You can always change it by deed poll; I managed to do it without any trouble. The UK doesn’t have any naming laws, and I think it should stay this way; it should be the responsibility of the parents to name their children appropriately, not the responsibility of the government to regulate this process.
Sarah Crown, editor of Mumsnet, waded in by asking people to “think about whether you could yell it across a supermarket”. My response would have to be: Sarah, a) I seriously doubt that Elon Musk ever does any of his own shopping, the only reason that he might step foot into a supermarket would be to show Baby X Æ A-12 how the “normal” people live and b) there would never be any need to shout his name to find him, he’s obviously been microchipped at birth.
Could it be a joke? Looking back on Elon’s history of comedic tweets… possibly? And honestly, I wouldn’t be at all upset if we’ve all been had and the child’s name is actually Bob or Bill. When it comes to the question of whether this causes me personal offence, I would have to say no. Am I ever going to mix in the same social circles as this child? Probably not. If we’re realistic, he’s already one thousand times richer than I’ll ever be. I’ll never meet or speak to this child, so I don’t see why I should have a strong opinion on his name. The only thing I will say is this: good luck to the teacher that has to call out the kid with the name of a Wi-Fi password in class.