Code-X (1)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Codebreaking


Here’s a code that we might call CHILD-ADULT, which is dominant in a cultural category that we might call KIDS’ ENTERTAINMENT.

t rex

Definition: Guileless, naïve, gormless, simple-minded, childish behavior in adult form.

donkey shrek

Notes on this code: (1) The child-adult is a holy fool, who speaks truth to power — their lack of maturity and sophistication makes them uniquely capable of summing up situations, perceiving truths that are so obvious they’re invisible. (2) The child-adult makes adulthood look less boringand forbidding, something that children might enjoy. (3) They’re silly, inappropriate, a bull in a china shop, always screwing up — they’re loveable losers, and they humanize the hero, who otherwise might be impossibly perfect. (4) They keep it real — add an element of unpredictability to a good vs. evil narrative that might feel too predetermined.




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Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.