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 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.