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It’s A Shame About Ray: Seeing My Own Name in Pop Culture

February 3, 2011

While I don’t mind people calling me “Ray” informally, I always introduce myself and write out my full name as Raymond, a habit I wonder if is in part because most of the Rays I’ve seen on television, movies, and books were, to be honest, low life jerks.  Frequently they are the drunk ex who shows up in a dingy a-frame t-shirt that some colloquially refer to as a “wifebeater” – a term I don’t use, though in the case of a Ray, chances are, they do indeed beat up on their wife or girlfriend or kids.

Ok, not all Rays are violent addicts.  There’s also the patchouli new agey boyfriend in High Fidelity played by Tim Robbins or the obnoxious Jason Bateman-played publicist in Hancock.  Ray Tango of Tango & Cash is sadly one of the better ones of the bunch, I could do worse than Sylvester Stallone, but let’s be real, that movie is not my movie.

So the pickings may be VERY slim, but here are a few Rays that I have enjoyed from TV and movies.

Ray Koval from Duplicity

Did you even bother to see Duplicity?  I did, and honestly it wasn’t so great – though re-reading that review, I wonder if it’s a movie that makes you cranky for paying for a theater visit, but makes for a decent airplane trip or Netflix Instant viewing.  The important part is the main character is named Ray, and he is played by Clive Owen who looks damn good in a linen suit and sunglasses.  And a towel.

Ray Fiske from Damages

I was late to the Damages party, but now that I’m here, I can’t stop talking about it.  I breezed through seasons one and two over the first two weeks of 2011, and every day I contemplate foregoing groceries to purchase season three on iTunes.  Sure, I could probably find a bootleg streaming of it, but Megavideo has a time limit, and I like to watch them all in a row.  The first season features the character of Ray Fiske, the attorney for Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), and he’s sort of a ‘bad guy’ in the simplistic sense, at least until you watch more of his story unfold throughout the season.  To say more would be to reveal spoilers, and Damages gives good twists, so I don’t want to deny you any of those pleasures.  Besides, saying the character is played by Željko Ivanek (with a southern accent) is enough of a recommendation.

Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams

I know it’s Kevin Costner and this is included not so much because of the character – I am only the most casual of baseball fans, nor am I from Iowa – but because I saw this movie a lot the year after it came out, in the theater with youth group outings, on bus trips across the country, during weekend family movie nights, and so damn it if in times of feeling frustrated and demoralized, I will sometimes hear James Earl Jones encouragingly say, “people will come, Ray.”


What characters in pop culture have your name that you love or hate?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 10:20 am

    The day a character in a movie is named Coya, I’ll fall over…

  2. eieioj permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:32 am

    Let’s not forget Ray Stantz (aka Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters)!

    Also, all characters who get my name are dead musicians from the 60s or awkward math club girls.

  3. February 3, 2011 10:39 am

    @coyapaz: I suppose the up-side is you will have no competition once you blow up.

    @eieioj: That is a good Ray too! I forgot about him, thanks.

  4. traci jean permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:53 am

    Have you seen Bored to Death? Zach Galifianakis’ character is Ray and he’s completely charming.

    My favorite Traci in movies (though it’s not spelled the same) is of course Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray. The original, NOT the remake. Once upon a time back in the 90s my answering machne message was a crappy recording of Divine saying “Roaches? Our little Tracy’s a clean teen!”

  5. February 3, 2011 10:57 am

    LOL @Ray Tango! Of course, that was the first Ray I thought of! Also all the “good” Rays, go by their full name like you: Raymond Burr, Raymond Chandler,

    Characters with my name tend to be whiny (Who’s the Boss’ Ange, My So Called Life) while also being incredibly self important. That seems about right.

  6. February 3, 2011 11:02 am

    @Traci Jean: your love of “Bored to Death” made me put it on my queue, but I’ll bump it up to the top now!

    @snarky: I reflexively always introduced myself as Raymond in grad school – it’s much more literary than Ray.

  7. thepants permalink
    February 3, 2011 11:09 am

    My first name is Andie so I always either get “Andy you Goonie!” which I love or asked if I’m Pretty in Pink, which I don’t so much love (but did when I was 13)

  8. February 3, 2011 11:21 am

    @thepants: also on the 80s movie front is Kate Capshaw’s Andie from Space Camp!

    @snarkysmachine: you forgot about Sharon Stone!

  9. Jillamina permalink
    February 3, 2011 11:26 am

    Reese Witherspoon showed up in a couple of episodes playing Rachel’s sister Jill. The character is spoiled and pretty terrible, but I wouldn’t mind the story of my life starring Reese. There’s a sexy doctor named Jill on that mediocre show Royal Pains that I watched marathon-style while stuck in a hotel room once. Oh, and the mom (or, as described on IMDB: domineering wife) from Home Improvement was named Jill.

  10. February 3, 2011 11:30 am

    @Jillamina: Home Improvement! Oh damn, I forgot that was her name. You are probably not surprised to find out I had (have?) a crush on Patricia Richardson.

  11. Jillamina permalink
    February 3, 2011 11:36 am

    @raymondj Not surprised at all.

    Thanks to name searches on IMDb, I will now be adding “To Gillian on her 37th Birthday” to my netflix queue. It stars Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer (as Gillian), Peter Gallagher, and Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows. Is Peter Gallagher the poor man’s MCSHANE?

  12. February 3, 2011 11:50 am

    I’ve never liked my IRL first name, in part because characters with it tend to be bland losers or the hot girl’s platonic friend.

  13. February 3, 2011 12:12 pm

    Calmer than you are, dude.

  14. February 3, 2011 12:15 pm

  15. February 3, 2011 12:33 pm

    I’m in the same camp as coyapaz. It’s not impossible but highly unlikely. Kiki used to be one of my nicknames, so watching America’s Sweetheart in which Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character keeps shouting “Kiki” at Julia Roberts is the closest feeling I’ve had to hearing my name in pop culture.

    @thepants The Goonie reference made me giggle! That’s very cute.

  16. February 3, 2011 12:38 pm

    @popscribblings: it’s true, this game is skewed towards those of us with names more common in the dominant culture. I wonder how long it takes for a name trending to show up more regularly as character names.

    @snarkysmachine: CeCe Wonder did a drag act to that Louis Prima song!

  17. February 3, 2011 1:02 pm

  18. hsofia permalink
    February 3, 2011 4:34 pm

    There’s no hope for my first name, which is old-fashioned even in Arabic speaking nations (apparently it’s the social equivalent of Gertrude or Beatrice). The closest thing to seeing my name in pop culture is aWill Shetterly (and Emma Bull?) Shadow Unit character. I’ve met them both so I don’t imagine it’s a coincidence. My middle name is definitely a throw-away character in pop culture. Sofia/Sophia is one of those names that script writers like to give to maids, crotchety old ladies, precocious little girls, and women who throw fits. I suppose I could be construed as an amalgamation of all those.

    As for Ray – wasn’t that the name of Dan Akroyd’s character in Ghostbusters? I am awful with names and don’t usually remember movie characters’ names, but I remember that. And I like Ray Liotta. =)

  19. February 3, 2011 4:38 pm

    Every time I watch Damages I wish my name was Patty or Arthur.

  20. February 3, 2011 5:01 pm

    I really didn’t have this problem in particular until “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. The cat and I share the same name. As you’d expect, I grew up hearing many references to witch trials and whatnot, but as an adult, people usually ask “Is that really your name?” and leave it alone. But the cat thing drove me nuts for a while, as the people who would point that out usually had nothing further to say about it. They would always say, “the cat on Sabrina the Witch has your name!” and then look at me expectantly, as though I was about to cast a spell or something.

    Raymond – though I totally detest that show, I could imagine some days where it would be awesome to read/hear the phrase “Everybody Loves Raymond”.

  21. February 3, 2011 5:09 pm

    @hsofia: I feel like there’s also the Older Sexy Latina Sofia in pop culture. I like Ray Liotta, too, though he can be a little Ray-like, he’s got danger eyes.

    @hollo: when I worked at the law firm, I got the “Everybody Loves Raymond” joke a lot when people complimented my competency in fixing their documents. It was overused so not funny, but I still found it kinda sweet. They smartly laid me off before it could become tedious.

  22. February 3, 2011 5:33 pm

    I forgot about Everyone Loves Raymond. I like Ray Romano though!

  23. February 3, 2011 9:08 pm

    IMDb returned 4 Kaitlyns spelled the right way, but I’m sure there have been more pronounced the same, spelled another way characters.

    My name has always been around, I was named after the Airwolf character, but it seems to be getting more popular as I get older, so I know I’ve heard the name assigned to a pre-teen girl on a L&O or CSI franchise! Killer or victim, who knows.

    I see my name and variations of it more often in blog posts and articles decrying kids’ names these days and I hate it so much, because while I didn’t choose my name, it still feels like an insult. I may not have chosen it, but I do like it.

  24. February 3, 2011 9:46 pm

    I was named after the Airwolf character


    that is awesome.

  25. February 5, 2011 10:45 am

    Late to the party, as always! (Can you tell I catch up on Internet reading on Saturday mornings?)

    I can’t think of any s.e.’s, although I’m sure there are a few somewhere! Us initialists tend to be either pompous or aw-shucks folksy in pop culture, neither of which leaves me quivering with delight, but, eh, what are you gonna do.

  26. February 6, 2011 12:52 pm

    i cannot believe you forgot ray ray (as played by robert forster) from fastlane.

  27. February 6, 2011 1:58 pm

    HAHAHA! omg, I forgot about the one episode of that show I watched. I wish it had lasted, for the name alone!

  28. February 6, 2011 3:05 pm

    one of my favorite supporting characters on My Name is Earl was named Ray Ray!

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