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


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.




MORE SEMIOSIS at HILOBROW: Towards a Cultural Codex | CODE-X series | DOUBLE EXPOSURE Series | CECI EST UNE PIPE series | Star Wars Semiotics | Icon Game | Meet the Semionauts | Show Me the Molecule | Science Fantasy | Inscribed Upon the Body | The Abductive Method | Enter the Samurai | Semionauts at Work | Roland Barthes | Gilles Deleuze | Félix Guattari | Jacques Lacan | Mikhail Bakhtin | Umberto Eco



Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based semiotic culture and brand analyst. He is editor/publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age science fiction imprint HILOBOOKS. In addition, Josh is co-author of several books, including (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) the family activities guides UNBORED, UNBORED GAMES, and the forthcoming UNBORED ADVENTURE. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT.