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Kevin’s return campaign

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In France there are more than 150,000 men and boys called Kevin, a name of Celtic origin that was very popular in the country especially between 1987 and 1994, also due to the influence of American cinema. However, over the years, this name has begun to be associated with the poorest sections of the population, being used in a derogatory and stereotypical way to identify people who are a little rude, rude or rude.

Now that they are mostly in their thirties, many Kevin born in the early ’90s in France are ridiculed and harassed both in everyday life and by comedians and on social networks precisely because of their name: one country side With the aim of fighting this stigma, and carrying out some kind of revenge on Kevin.

According to some sociologists heard of Different modified French who took care of the initiative, It’s hard to pinpoint exactly Why was the name Kevin – sometimes spelled “Kevin” – so popular in France in the early 1990s; Fashion, however, is largely attributed to the international success of some American cult films, such as freestyle (1984), played by American actor Kevin Bacon, Mom I missed the plane (1990), in which Macaulay Culkin is a Chicago kid named Kevin McAllister who struggles with two strange apartment robbers, or dance with wolves (1990), starring Kevin Costner.

Thanks to the influence of American TV series and Hollywood films, in the early 1990s, many French girls and boys were called Steve, Jennifer or Dylan, like the character played by Luke Perry in Beverly Hills 90210: Something similar happened between the 1990s and the 2000s also in Italy, albeit in smaller proportions.

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However, in France, no one has succeeded in making Kevin, who was by far the most popular name among newborns in all regions of mainland France in 1991, when they were named so. More than 13,000 children. In some cases, the name is believed to have been inspired by the name of Kevin Richardson, a member of the Backstreet Boys boyband; According to campaign promoter Kevin Favorno, other families still choose it in honor of England footballer Kevin Keegan, the Ballon d’Or in 1978 and 1979.

As explained by Fafournoux on Site From the campaign, despite the fact that for about thirty years the name Kevin has been very popular in recent years “has become the equivalent of [una persona] zotica, the loser, the illiterate and the shaded “, primarily thanks to the widespread use of the Internet, social networks and reality television. The goal of the initiative “Sauvon Les Kevin— Literally ‘Let’s Save Kevin’ — is to be able to make a short film through an open fundraiser looking into the origin of the name and the origin of its biases, helping to overcome them.

Born into what he calls an “ordinary” family of civil servants in central France and working as a graphic designer, Favorno, 34, has said he often finds Kevin’s name at the top of a blogging list of the “ten worst names” to give to a child in France. He also explained that because of the constant teasing, many French Kevin have problems with self-esteem or are not seen as credible either in their careers or in relationships.

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For example, he spoke of the boisterous laughter that erupted among those present when the mayor, during a wedding to which he was invited, read the groom’s middle name, Kevin; He himself tries not to leave his name when booking in restaurants to avoid ridicule.

Among the more than 300 testimonies of French men collected through the campaign, there are also those of a psychologist who preferred not to have his first name indicated on the plaque outside the building where his office is to avoid discouraging potential patients and that of Kevin, who said he had to use a fictitious name so he could identify Some dates on a dating app, where he said he was snubbed because of the name. A neuroscientist and physician also reported that they struggled to be taken seriously in their respective fields, again because they were called Kevin.

In June, the left newspaper UPS hung With the parliamentary elections blamed on Kevin Pfeiffer and Kevin Movio, two MPs aged between 32 and 30 who presented themselves to the far-right National Rally party, ironically defining the election of a person with that name “for the first time in the history of the republic”.

Due to the widespread misunderstanding about Kevin’s name, the campaign has also rebounded some criticism On social networks and according to Fafournoux, the idea is to “make it clear that jokes can be very funny, but the feeling of discrimination is real.”

– Read also: Do names and surnames affect our lives?

Baptiste Colmont, Professor of Sociology at the École Normale Supérieure Saclay, Paris, He explained That working-class families in France generally tend to choose the traditional names that were common in bourgeois circles in previous decades. However, things changed in the second half of the twentieth century, and many of these families began choosing English-speaking names, which the Parisian bourgeoisie had never used and actually despised, helping to reinforce the stereotype that these names are associated with lower names. Social classes. And less culture.

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In any case, Colmont noted, this is a “potential time for change” for French society, precisely because many of the tens of thousands of Kevin born in France in the early 1990s are young people in particularly important social positions: According to Colmont, The fact that there are doctors, academics and researchers, but also about 600 city councilors named Kevin, indicates that the name is no longer “related to one background”.

The Fafournoux campaign had begun in early July and, depending on the amount of money raised, involved making a film of about 50 minutes, organizing a gathering of people named Kevin, showing the documentary at the cinema and assembling a book with various tales. and testimonials. A few days after the initial goal is largely exceeded: shooting will begin next fall.

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