Well, we knew his name would be unique. On December 5, several weeks before her due date, Kim Kardashian gave birth to her much-discussed son with husband Kanye West. Kardashian posted a message to all her fans via her app, announcing the arrival of her son as well as a status update on her heath (and baby's). The couple then kept fans in the dark for two days (a far cry shorter than how long we waited for confirmation of North's name) before announcing the details of his moniker. Fans had hoped for a name to match big sister North: something like East or South. Kim and Kanye disappointed (or did they delight?), but didn’t fail to bring the controversy. Kim announced the name in a two-word tweet: SAINT WEST, followed by an emoji-laden family birth announcement.
In a matter of seconds, two of the most famous people in the world had named their 8 pound, 1 ounce baby boy “Saint,” and all social-media hell broke loose.
Hours after the news broke, #SaintWest remains a trending topic on Twitter, and some have already written and executed dense round-ups of the funniest #SaintWest tweets. Most of these ridicule KimYe in some way, but a sizable number take aim at the babe himself. One tweet depicts a Saint Bernard with the caption “Kim’s baby name inspiration.” Others claim they could have named the baby God, joke that the baby broke Twitter, and simply ridicule it. A name like Saint and it's not hard to see why the Internet went ballistic.
Is there a patron saint for big butts and even bigger egos? #SaintWest— Zoe vs. the Universe (@zoevsuniverse) December 7, 2015
'Saint' they named the poor child. Jesus Mary and Joseph could they not have PICKED a saint? #SaintWest— irishmammies (@irishmammies) December 7, 2015
Take a deep breath, Internet. Despite their stratospheric levels of fame, their platinum albums, the reality TV shenanigans, and the near-royal levels of arrogance, Kim and Kanye are actual people. And here in America, they have the right to name their baby whatever the blue hell they want (no offense, Blue Ivy). Remember those people that got away with naming their kid Aryan Nation? We don’t have to like it. But it’s their right as parents. (For the record, what Kim and Kanye chose to name their son isn't anywhere near comparable to moniker like "Aryan Nation.")
Is it pronounced "Saint" like "St. Thomas" or "Saint Laurent" (how SL is supposed to be pronounced)? #saintwest— Courtney Forrest (@courtyforrest) December 7, 2015
Since naming is their right as parents, it counts as a parenting decision. We know that, barring Social Services intervention, no one has the right to question someone else’s parenting decisions. And it’s bad manners to snark about them, particularly in public, particularly for retweets and shares. Kim and Kanye see this stuff. And yes, they probably knew (and were trying) to court controversy with their baby’s name. But don't you think that some small part of Kim is hurt every time someone says they don’t like her kid’s name?
Yes, Saint is an, um, unique moniker. So are Pilot Inspecktor and Apple and Moxie and North, which, need I remind you, everyone once freaked out about, but now seems to regard as the height of cool. Saint certainly won't go by Saint W. in his kindergarten class. It's different. So are lots of names. Get over it.
The problem seems to come not from the uniqueness of the name — Jason Lee's baby didn't break the Internet when he named his son Pilot Inspecktor — but from what people see as the sheer arrogance of it. Kanye's accused of being a magnificent jerk, and people see this as one more way he’s flaunting his wealth, power, and general jerkitude. My kid is better than yours, the name seems to say. My kid is a Saint. Not any particular saint, but the embodiment of the concept of saintliness, and hence above all the peasants.
Saintliness is a good concept. We could all use more of it. And there’s a long history of naming kids after virtues: Mercy, Temperance, and Grace are in hipster names right now. Saint isn’t much different. It’s just sort of all those virtues rolled into one.
People seem to forget that Kim and Kanye are real people who get drooled on (thanks North!), and already it seems like they’ve completely forgotten that Saint is an actual baby. A baby was conceived with difficulty, whose mother suffered health issues during her pregnancy, and who's impending birth was riddled with potential complications — both for him and his mom. He was a high-risk pregnancy, but despite all of that, remember: Saint was, very much, a very wanted baby.
This baby came into the world like every baby does: a blank slate of gooey, flailing limbs, adored by his mother as the miracle he is. With a proud father. Everyone’s forgotten that part, in between tabloid headlines and Twitter feeds. This is an actual baby. He will grow up. He will one day have his own Twitter account (if he doesn't already). Will he face this type of ridicule about his name for the rest of his life? Yes, certainly; he'll have immediate access to the vitriol spewed in his first days.
As adults, let's imagine how that feels.
Saint isn’t actually a terrible name. TBH, it’s better than Pilot Inspecktor. It also isn’t East or South, which would be kitchy and ridiculous next to a sister named North. HIs parents had the sense to realize that, and for the sense of restraint, they should be commended.
If people made these comments about a person at their high school, we’d call it bullying, but because Saint West is now the most famous baby on the planet, he’s fair game for dog jokes. Every joke about his parents is ultmately about him. And yes, it’s easy to make fun of KimYe. But in the delivery room, in parenthood in general, you’re not the world-famous superstar you are in the tabloids. You’re straining to push. You’re struggling to breastfeed. You’re a person, not a celebrity construct.
Saint doesn’t even have the luxury of that celebrity construct. He’s incapable of rolling over on his own volition. Yes, we knew his name would be unique. And, especially knowing his parents, it’s an easy target. But step it on back, internet. You might think it’s all in fun. But you’re bullying a real-life baby, and that's not a good look for anyone.
Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images