What’s in a name? Analyzing Baby Driver

I originally started this blog with the intention of writing mainly television related posts but I’m making an exception for Baby Driver. Spoilers ahead by the way. [I’m going to mention who dies in the film]

The film is driven by music but it’s also obsessed with names. When we see the film, we are first introduced to Baby, a young man who is hired to be the driver of the getaway car in heists. His name is constantly repeated throughout the entire film. Baby B-A-B-Y Baby. Why? Perhaps because it’s uncommon having an adult man with that name. The last time we heard it so often was with a teenager in love with an older sexy dancer in Dirty Dancing (1987). Well there is Cry Baby in Cry Baby (1990) but that’s a different story.

Baby is not the only one with a nickname. We have Doc who is a mobster of sorts with connections and the power to hurt the ones you love. Buddy and Darling who are a husband and wife duo who love money and shooting guns. Finally, there is Bats who is scary and willing to kill a waitress when it’s time to pay the bill. Doc, Buddy, Darling, and Bats are criminals on a power trip. They are above everyone else and they show it in their own ways. Doc is subtle. He will leave you alone but double cross him and he might send you a piece of your significant other in a box. Buddy and Darling are so horny for each other that they would kill anyone for each other. Bats is constantly proving his power whether it’s insulting someone or killing a group of people. He is bat shit crazy and he will do anything to prove it. It’s almost like their nicknames gives them their power and the persona they want to project. Look at the butcher and his collection of meat (guns).

However, everything goes downhill once their real names are revealed. Darling admits that her name is Monica. Then Bats kills the Butcher and his crew. Doc reveals Bats’ real name is Leon. Then on the job, Baby drives the getaway car and hits a parked truck where a rebar stabs Leon and kills him. During the craziness of trying to escape the police, Monica yells out Buddy’s real name, Jason. Then she dies while shooting the police. Doc’s name isn’t revealed but he gets run over by Jason who is seeking revenge for his wife’s death. Jason is eventually killed by Baby. Finally, Baby’s name is revealed when he is sentenced to prison. Miles.

A nickname is an alter ego that Doc, Darling, Buddy, and Bats have to show they are scary and powerful but their real name represent their reality. At the end, they are not invincible. They are powerless.  Their alter ego is dead. They are not above anyone else especially Baby.

The only characters that are true and not living a double life are Joe and Debora who use their real names throughout the film. Joe is a man who wants Baby to leave the dangerous profession and approves of him meeting Debora.

Debora is first introduced with a name tag that says “Jonathan” which is comedic and never intended to be her name in the film. When Baby and Debora first meet, they have a cute conversation about names. Debora is obsessed with names. She thinks that she got a horrible name because Debora is barely used in songs. She is amazed and jealous of Baby’s name. Amazed because it’s a man’s name. Jealous because there are so many songs with Baby in it.

It’s easy to connect the dots with real names. In the diner scene, Baby is scared to death when he realizes Debora is wearing a name tag with her real name on it. Bats, Buddy, and Darling can read it. They know her name. Later on, when they listen to one of Baby’s tapes titled Debora, they realize who is Baby’s girlfriend. Leverage. Danger. Fear. Death.

At that point, Baby needed to stop being the baby. He needed to stop being treated like a child. He needed to stop being a slave. The actions that followed surprised everyone. Baby is dead. Miles is alive.

 

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