In 1991, France saw one name top the charts for baby boys: Kevin (or sometimes Kévin). That year, at least 14,087 Kévins were born. In the 1990s, the cultural zeitgeist was filled with Kevins, from the lead character in Home Alone to movie stars like Kevin Costner or Kevin Bacon.
The American sounding first name has unfortunately not been met with widespread love and appreciation in France, as elites looked down upon the name and it rapidly fell out of favour. Since then, many of France’s Kévins have had to endure mockery and judgement for having what many view as a ‘trashy‘ name.
The clichés about the name ‘Kévin’ even inspired a not-so-kind phrase, “Faire son Kévin,” used to describe someone who is immature or childish.
READ MORE: French phrase of the day: Faire son Kévin
Now most of these French Kévins are in their thirties, and the name has fallen out of popularity in large part due to the negative clichés surrounding it. But one Kévin is seeking to take on the stereotypes.
His name is Kevin Fafournoux, and his project is a documentary titled “Sauvons les Kevin” (Save the Kevins). He wants to ‘rehabilitate’ the popular 90s name by shooting a documentary “about Kevin, for Kevin, by Kevin.” By trade a graphic designer, Fafournoux has been financing the film via crowdfunding. You can watch the trailer HERE.
According to The Guardian, the film will also look into the origins of the name Kevin, “from its roots in Ireland to its connotations in Germany, where the term “Kevinism” is sometimes used as shorthand for giving your child an exotic name that might mark out their social class or hamper their future.”
Regarding the socio-economic status of the name in France, Baptiste Coulmont, professor of sociology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, told Radio France: “Kevin is a name that was born in the working classes, and died there as well. It was rarely given to [children of] executives or Parisian elites”.
It is also those groups who have been most likely to mock the name, according to the professor, who explained that negative stereotypes about ‘les Kévin’ often come from “the intellectual bourgeoisie who found that this name embodied bad taste.”
Fafournoux told Radio France he has received over 200 testimonies from other Kévins about their experiences with the name, many being lumped in with reality TV and other markers related to class.
“Employers don’t take them seriously during interviews or when dating girls, there is sometimes a prejudice when you have this name,” he said.
NON les Kevin ne sont pas des beaufs 😤 ! Kevin Fafournous milite pour l'arrêt de la stigmatisation des Kevin !
— Konbini news (@konbininews) July 9, 2022
With his documentary, he hopes to change people’s mentalities. “The idea is to show that you can hold positions of responsibility, succeed in your professional life, and do well in your studies while still being called Kevin,” said the filmmaker.
Filming is set to begin in a few months.