"Ten Reasons WHY Barry Became Barack"

2008
Mar
24

Barack in his Barry yearsNewsweek has this long article titled “When Barry Became Barack” which featured a bunch of anecdotal items about the Presidential Candidate’s “formative years”, starting with his decision in college to drop using the “Americanized” nickname Barry in favor of having himself addressed as Barack. It’s a generally positive piece but is not without its doubt-inducing moments, particularly suggesting inconsistencies within his autobiography. But it never addresses the real motivation behind the “name change”, which may have a lot to do with who he shared the name “Barry” with. I have assembled ten good examples of why “Barry” was and is not a good name for Obama. First, five who were prominent when he made the change:

5. Barry Morse
Barry Morse of The Fugitive and Space 1999 In the ’60s into the ’70s, he was known as “that guy who played the cop chasing after The Fugitive” (and as the accompanying publicity picture shows, getting real close to him but never actually catching him). Forever tied to that role, at least he could say “I’m not a loser but I play one on TV”, but it didn’t help. Then, in 1975, he took on a new role as the balding, aging, bad-t-shirt-wearing moonbase science guy in “Space 1999”, produced by the same people who did “Thunderbirds” and turning its human actors into Supermarianation-esque puppets.

4. Barry Williams
Barry Williams from the Brady Bunch and Beyond In the latter part of the 1970s, the only actor named Barry more prominent than Mr. Morse was the kid who played Greg on The Brady Bunch, very likely motivating a lot of young men named Greg to change it to something like Barack. Or Wendell.

3. Barry White
Barry White of the Love Unlimited Orchestra There have been several notable Barrys in pop music, like McGuire, whose “Eve of Destruction” protest song was an eerily inaccurate prediction of Armageddon. And Gibb, eldest of the Brothers Gibb (aka Bee Gees) who sold millions of records by adding falsetto vocals to a disco beat. But one of the most successful, as well as the most famous black guy named Barry at the time, was Barry White, whose pre-hiphop ‘seducto-rapping’ and soaring-string-sectioned Love Unlimited Orchestra was a rather odd mutation of R&B music at the time, but very successful until a thousand parodies knocked it down to size. Anyone with aspirations of anything beyond “scoring with dumb girls” had to run away from that image.

2. Barry Goldwater
Barry GoldwaterSure, what better namesake for a young, black, kinda-good-looking and solidly Liberal aspiring future politician than the very white 1964 Election Loser and Spiritual Father of the Reaganistas who looked 60 in his 40’s and did so much to make black rimmed glasses desperately uncool for decades.

1. Barry Manilow
Barry Freaking Manilow Come on, Barry Manilow. BARRY MANILOW. BARRY FREAKING MANILOW. What more can I say?

If the Barry-named role models were bad in 1980, here are five more who have emerged in the years since that have clearly shown Obama’s abandonment of the name to be one of his best decisions:

5. Barry Humphries
Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Okay, not a lot of people know the name of the Man Behind Dame Edna, but that doesn’t make it any better.

4. Dave Barry
Dave Barry books It’s not just guys with the given name of Barry who have given the name a bad name, but also surnames, as almost perfectly reflected by the current archetype of humor writers, who has declared that “Boogers Are My Beat”, and must remind us constantly when he “Is Not Making This Up”

3. Marion Barry
Marion Barry And if surnames are fair game, then Mr. Obama is more than justified in keeping a thousand-mile distance from the disgraced but indestructible Washington D.C. politician.

2. Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds Barry Bonds Before Bulking UpThe Asterisked Home Run King is probably the most famous famous Guy Named Barry in the world at this moment, and that is not a good thing. And it’s just a little scary that the Before picture of him here does superficially resemble the Young Barry Obama.

1. Barry vs. The Tick
Barry The Tick This episode of the cult favorite superhero’s adventures (animated version) pretty much nailed down the concept that Barry Is A Dumb Name for me. In this, Barry was an aspiring superhero who took on the name “The Tick” just as the Real Tick (who had no other identity) was gaining prominence. I agree with this reviewer that this was the funniest “Tick” episode of any format ever, piling on the Superheroes Private Club (and the semi-attached Sidekick Lounge), the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight and other wild concepts and characters on top of the Attack of the Seriously Pissed Guy Named Barry. And it’s clear that the character would not have worked with an obviously less cool name (Fred or or Clyde… or Wendell) or more cool name (Ethan or Josh or Dylan) or a more generic name (John or Bill or Tom). Barry was perfect for this semi-super wannabe, and that’s why it is no good for anyone aiming for the Presidency.

Next week, a look at the secret relationship between Hillary Clinton and the recently departed Sir Edmund Hillary.

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