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CULTURE

‘Save the Kévins’ – French film aims to rehabilitate the much-mocked name

Did you know that people named Kevin are regarded as a bit of a laughing stock in France? One French Kevin is fed up with negative clichés surrounding his name, and is making a documentary to try and change people's minds.

'Save the Kévins' - French film aims to rehabilitate the much-mocked name
MP of French far-right party Rassemblement National Kevin Mauvieux made headlines after being one of two 'Kevins' to be elected to France's parliament in 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

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.

READ MORE: We need to talk about Kévin: Why France fell in (and out of) love with a name

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.

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FOOD & DRINK

French AOP cheese the latest victim of France’s drought

Your cheeseboard board might have to go without a classic French cheese for some time, after production was halted due to the impacts of drought. 

French AOP cheese the latest victim of France's drought

Production of Salars – a type of cows’ milk cheese from the central French département of Cantal – has been halted for an indefinite period, as France suffers its worst drought on record.

Across the country rivers have run dry and water restrictions have been imposed – and now the cheese-makers are affected too.

The Salars cheese is an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), meaning the rules for its production are carefully defined – to be authentic, the cows’ diet must be at least 75 percent grass from pastures within the Auvergne region.

But as the drought continues, the normally fertile volcanic earth in Auvergne has gone hard and dry, and the grass has died – for the 78 AOP cheese producers in the region, their cows have not been able to graze for weeks.

READ MORE: Ask the expert: Why is France’s drought so bad and what will happen next?

“There is nothing left to eat at my place,” said Laurent Roux, a farmer at Gaec de la Calsade in Cantal, to Francetvinfo.

“In some places, the ground looks like ashes. It’s dust,” he added. Roux’ cows have not been able to graze since June 25th. 

While this is the first time a full production stop for Salers has occurred, it is not the first time the AOP has had to contend with challenging climate conditions.

Some farmers had to temporarily suspend production in 2017, and in 2019, the AOP requested a waiver to decrease cows’ share of grass in their diets to 50 percent rather than the usual 75 percent.

However, farmer and head of the AOP, Laurent Lours, said this option was not on the table this year. “It is not worth it because we do not even have 50 percent of the grass,” he told the local station of France 3

He expects production to drop by at least 15 percent this year, as the cheese is only produced on farms between April 15th and November 15th. 

READ MORE: More than 100 French villages without tap water in ‘unprecedented’ drought

For individual farmers, many will turn to Cantal cheese (rather than Salers), which has less restrictive regulations for its production. Doing so also means that they will earn less – a loss of €200 per 1,000 litres of milk.

As for consumers, they can expect a shortage in stores and increase in prices for Salers cheese.

The drought is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with the possibility of impacting other cheeses and AOP products.

In Switzerland, producers of Gruyère cheese are also worried about a lower quantity of milk production and are considering bringing their cows down to the plains earlier than usual this season.

From the mussels in the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel (as a result of a lack of fresh water in the rivers) to the Espelette peppers being lost to high temperatures, drought will likely impact a range of France’s unique ingredients.

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