WHAT’S in a name? In the environs of Cape Town, a reminder of the really bad television of the 1980s.
Well, to be fair, it wasn’t all that bad. Especially if people were inspired to name their children after the soap opera stars.
There are several generations out there who were named for soap characters. First there was the Sue-Ellen phase, named after a Dallas character. Then there was the Young and the Restless. Or as we knew it in the era of simulcast, Rustelose Jare.
My favourite show around that time was Beverly Hills 90210. I remember racing to the lounge to tune in the correct radio frequency for the English dialogue. Everyone spoke Afrikaans back then, even the Americans.
I always wondered why people from the Cape Flats, with no known Nordic roots, would name their child Sven. Until I realised it was the name of a character in a soap opera.
Popular names for people my age were Alexis, the villain in Dynasty, and Kelly from Santa Barbara. There were also several Isabellas (Days of Our Lives) and Tamaras (Bold and the Beautiful).
You’d think my generation would be a tad more creative in naming their offspring. Sadly not. They have followed suit, naming their children after daytime television characters. Even when they are unable to properly pronounce the names.
According to my calculations, primary schools should be flooded with the names of Bold and the Beautiful characters, like Brooke, Logan, Thorne, Ridge and Taylor.
We were not supposed to be watching those soap operas while growing up, but somehow they’ve made an impression.
DStv, SABC and e.tv have not tried hard enough to impress me, so like many other South Africans, I only use the box – a good old-fashioned fat screen – to watch movies. And perhaps the odd episode of Survivor. Everything else is downloaded.
Of course, what is regarded as entertainment has changed in the last decade. It’s all about zombies and vampires, werewolves and reality television. Other than giving people nightmares, I think this type of entertainment, as in previous generations, will leave its mark. I shudder to think what the next generation is going to name their children.
I imagine roll calls in 2025 sounding something like this: “Vampire Bill Abrahams? (Present.) Zombie Apocalypse Petersen? (Present.) Survivor Arendse. Survivor? Is Survivor Arendse here? (Absent.)”
Really, what’s in a name? Quite a bit if you ask me.