John Swansberg writes in Slate about the Bud Light TV commercials that depict "a day in the life of an unnamed man who communicates using the word dude and dude alone." Swansberg identifies "at least six distinct usages" of dude in the ads:
The admonitory dude: the dude deployed when your buddy won't stop humming "Umbrella" on a long car ride. As in, "Dude, enough."
The interrogative dude: useful for ascertaining whether you've dropped a call. "Dude? Are you still there?"
The deflated dude: the dude of bad news. "Dude. Tom Brady's wearing a boot."
The exclamatory dude: the dude of good news. "Dude! Tom Brady is no longer wearing a boot!"
The sotto voce dude: for classified briefings. "Dude: Here comes that tall drink of water from accounting."
The blissed-out dude: more accurately rendered as duhuhude. The dude issued upon rediscovering a long-lost Dead tape.
I counted a few additional variations in the "Dude Football" spot: the dude of disgust (in the restroom), the dude of distress (hitting crotch on turnstile), and the you-disappoint-me dude (at the very end).
Pictured: Jeff Bridges as Jeff (The Dude) Lebowski, in The Big Lebowski (1998). Image source.
I like the way in which Swansberg typographically distinguishes the different uses (clever use of : , ? . ! : ...)
Posted by: The Ideophone | January 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM
It's a metaphor for both the inability of men to express intimacy directly and for the wealth of inflection that compensates for that inability. Check out the palace victory scene at the end of Dune when Kyle McLaughlin has just utterly demolished Sting, using his unamplified voice as a weapon. Everett McGill (Stilgar), his one-time trainer, expresses his awe with an emotive outburst of McLaughlin's warrior title: "M'ah D'ib!", that could probably best be translated as "Dude! What a big one you've got."
Posted by: Dave Blake | February 03, 2008 at 10:06 AM