Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Happened?

Question: How did "Nick" go from being a tough-guy name to a dweeb name in one generation, and did I have something to do with it?

When I was growing up, there weren't many Nicks out there — it wasn't a very popular name (not in the top 50, at least). The Nicks you did meet were often Greek and usually liquor-store owners or the kind of guys who would kill a man for sport.

Remember when Mallory on "Family Ties" started dating a leather-clad bad boy? His name was Nick.

At some point in the 1990s, "Nicholas" became a popular baby name among trendy parents seeking an air of sophistication. It topped out as the sixth most common name in America.

The result: a generation of wussy Nicks. In fact, it's reached the point where the name is a proxy for nerdiness.

Witness the following review for Michael Cera's new movie "Youth in Revolt":
Michael Cera is in danger of being typecast. He always plays nerdy, wispy milquetoasts, the more virginal the better. He always delivers his lines in a soft-spoken, articulate monotone that feigns humility while underscoring the vast taproot of pop-cultural factoids at his disposal. He's sometimes named Nick. And he's usually chasing the girl of his dreams.
The writer uses the name "Nick" as evidence of dorkiness! How have we fallen so far so quickly?