Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Other than whitewashed Asian characters, my least favorite thing lately is people omitting my middle initial even though I've included my middle initial in my name 88,000 times

Natalie Morales and Natalie Morales, who would both probably have a less aggravating time on social media if one of them just added her middle initial to her name

In 2014, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made a big deal about removing the "D." from his byline. He explained that "I don't think it buys any clarity. As far as I know there isn't a single other Nicholas Kristof anywhere in the world, so I'm unlikely to be confused with Nicholas G. Kristof or Nicholas S. Kristof III." Kristof then added, "I think in the Internet age, the middle initial conveys a formality that is a bit of a barrier to our audience. It feels a bit ostentatious, even priggish."

Sure, a middle initial is a bit stuffy-looking and Thurston Howell-esque, but while Kristof scrapped his, and another Gray Lady writer, Bruce Feiler, concurred with Kristof and implored John Q. Public to "K.O. the Q.," I went in the opposite direction and chose to add my middle initial right after my first and, so far, only published work of fiction, the short story "Sampler," came out in 2009 within the pages of the New Press graphic novel Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. I knew, shortly before the short story was published, that the story was going to bring some extra attention to my byline, which it did do briefly in 2009, and that readers would confuse me with other Filipinos or Italians named "Jimmy Aquino," so I took a cue from William H. Macy and Michael J. Fox, who included their middle initials to differentiate themselves from other Screen Actors Guild members with the same names (in the case of the Canadian-born Fox, SAG already had an actor in America named Michael Fox). But it was too late for me to get the New Press to tack on my middle initial, so I slapped it onto my byline everywhere else when the graphic novel came out.

And I'll have to continue to include my middle initial everywhere, even in Twitter header images (but not in conversation because that would be douchey), because "Jimmy Aquino" continues to be a common Filipino name and people occasionally confuse me online with other people with the same name. People (after 2009) who always omit my middle initial whenever you mention me online, you're not fucking helping. I feel like you folks who are weirdly allergic to middle initials think I'm trying to be bougie.

My addition of my middle initial is not a bougie thing like the "J." Donald Drumpf includes in his name because he's a cartoon character like Wile E. Coyote. I need the middle initial to differentiate myself in Google searches from other folks with the same name. Unlike Kristof, I need it because it does increase clarity.

Adding a middle initial would likely reduce the amount of bizarre tweets that Natalie Morales from The Grinder encounters on Twitter because people over there confuse her all the time with soon-to-be-former Today Show host Natalie Morales. But the Grinder cast member and former Middleman star has actually been having too much fun on Twitter mocking idiots who write mean (or pervy) tweets to her and think she's Natalie Morales from NBC News.

So because too many people never stop to mind their surroundings like Liam Neeson was often fond of saying in Batman Begins and do some research about whoever they're trying to talk to, I also go by my DJing name of DJ AFOS if "Jimmy J. Aquino" is too much of a head-scratcher for their weird-ass brains. But in pieces of long-form writing like my most popular article on Twitter, a piece about Edgar Wright's The World's End, my byline isn't "DJ AFOS" because no one's going to take seriously a film and TV writer when he's named "DJ AFOS."

I once thought about changing my first name to "Carter," as both a reference to my parents naming me after Jimmy Carter (because he was the president when I was born), and a shout-out to Jay Z. At the time, I was going through a phase where Hov was one of my favorite MCs, but that was before he made Kingdom Come and Magna Carta Holy Grail, and, well, I haven't liked Shawn Carter as much since those two albums (and when Carter is the first name of the most boring DC Comics superhero who's not Aquaman, I'll just stick to being Jim for now).

So please, don't sleep on my middle initial. Or I will have to change my first name to Carter, and nobody wants that.

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