Code-X (16)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Codebreaking, Most Visited, Semiotics

ted knight

Call this cultural category code: Sonorous Snark.

Definition: The deep, sonorous voices of (for example) actors Ted Knight, Seinfeld‘s John O’Hurley, and Phil Hartman have been used in a snarky way — to mock and reject the old-fashioned, macho, sometimes conservative values their characters promote.


Notes on this code: Certain beer campaigns — e.g., Bud Light’s “This is Matt,” Coors Light’s “Trucker,” “Subzero,” and others (which are in fact voiced by O’Hurley) — employ sonorous snark to express sarcasm towards idealized, over-the-top claims typical in the beer category. Typical, even, of their own brands’ previous campaigns.




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Joshua Glenn is a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011); and he is co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. 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. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.