Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Invalid Animals

Finding the Non-Human Funny in Special Needs Pets

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2013), 7, (3), 321–335.

Abstract

The promotional material for the UK Channel 4 documentary Special Needs Pets asks, "how far are pet owners prepared to go when their pets develop special needs?" The programme recounts the stories of a number of what the voice-over refers to as "invalid animals," and asks, "Do we love our pets too much?" In its use of music and voice-over, the programme can be seen to encourage a confusingly comic response from its audience, who are invited to find funny both the behaviour of the animals featured and that of their owners. While not simplistically equating human and non-human notions of disability, the article suggests that exploring the comic aspect of the programme gives insights into human understandings of this category. It argues that while some aspects of the programme might be seen as encouraging audiences to find disability funny, the humour more often works to confuse readings of the programme's content, and therefore, perhaps, opens up a space for a range of contradictory understandings of disability.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Trans. Hélène Iswolsky. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1984 (1965). Print. Rabelais and His World Google Scholar

Billig, Michael. Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London: Sage, 2005. Print. Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour Google Scholar

Campbell, Fiona Kumari. Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009. Print. Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness Google Scholar

Charlton, James. "The Dimensions of Disability Oppression." The Disability Studies Reader. 3rd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2010. 147-59. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 147 59 Google Scholar

Corbett, Jenny. "Introduction." Bad-Mouthing: The Language of Special Needs. Ed. Jenny Corbett. London: The Falmer P, 1996. 1-6. Print. Bad-Mouthing: The Language of Special Needs 1 6 Google Scholar

Corker, Mairian, and Tom Shakespeare, eds. Disability/Postmodernism: Embodying Disability Theory. London and New York: Continuum, 2002. Print. Disability/Postmodernism: Embodying Disability Theory Google Scholar

Corner, John. The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996. Print. The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary Google Scholar

Dugan, Emily. "Francesca Martinez: A wobbly girl's battle against the last taboo." The Independent. 8 November. 2009. 26. Print. Francesca Martinez: A wobbly girl's battle against the last taboo The Independent. Google Scholar

Edwards, Steven D. Disability: Definitions, Value and Identity. Oxford and Seattle: Radcliffe, 2005. Print. Disability: Definitions, Value and Identity Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: The Will to Knowledge. Trans. Robert Hurley. London: Pengiun, 1998 (1976). Print. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: The Will to Knowledge Google Scholar

Goodley, Dan. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. London: Sage, 2011. Print. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction Google Scholar

Green, David G. We're (Nearly) All Victims Now! How Political Correctness Is Undermining Our Liberal Culture. London: Civitas, 2006. Print. We're (Nearly) All Victims Now! How Political Correctness Is Undermining Our Liberal Culture Google Scholar

Hughes, Geoffrey. Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print. Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture Google Scholar

Jenkins, Ron. Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy. New York: The Free P, 1994. Print. Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy Google Scholar

Johnson, Kelley. People with Intellectual Disabilities: Towards a Good Life? Bristol: Policy P, 2010. Print. People with Intellectual Disabilities: Towards a Good Life? Google Scholar

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgement. Trans. J. H. Bernard. London: Macmillan, 1931 (1790). Print. Critique of Judgement Google Scholar

Klein, Allen. The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing the Face of Death and Dying. New York: Tarcher/Putnam. 1998. Print. The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing the Face of Death and Dying Google Scholar

Lipman, Steve. Laughter in Hell: The Use of Humor during the Holocaust. Lanham: Jason Aronson. 1993. Print. Laughter in Hell: The Use of Humor during the Holocaust Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York, London: New York UP, 2006. Print. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability Google Scholar

Mast, Jelle. "New Directions in Hybrid Popular Television: A Reassessment of Television Mock-Documentary." Media, Culture and Society 31.2 (2009): 231-50. Print. New Directions in Hybrid Popular Television: A Reassessment of Television Mock-Documentary Media, Culture and Society 31 231 50 Google Scholar

Mills, Brett. The Sitcom. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009. Print. The Sitcom Google Scholar

Morreall, John. Taking Laughter Seriously. Albany: State U of New York P, 1983. Print. Taking Laughter Seriously Google Scholar

Mulkay, Michael. On Humour: Its Nature and Place in Modern Society. Cambridge: Polity P, 1988. Print. On Humour: Its Nature and Place in Modern Society Google Scholar

Neale, Steve, and Frank Krutnik. Popular Film and Television Comedy. London and New York: Routledge, 1990. Print. Popular Film and Television Comedy Google Scholar

Nichols, Bill. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. Print. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary Google Scholar

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd edn. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print. Introduction to Documentary Google Scholar

Panksepp, Jaak, and Jeff Burgdorf. "‘Laughing’ Rats and the Evolutionary Antecedents of Human Joy?" Physiology and Behaviour 79 (2003): 533-47. Print. ‘Laughing’ Rats and the Evolutionary Antecedents of Human Joy? Physiology and Behaviour 79 533 47 Google Scholar

Reid, D. Kim, Edy Hammond Stoughton, and Robin M. Smith. "The Humorous Construction of Disability: ‘Stand-Up’ Comedians in the United States." Disability and Society 21.6 (2006): 629-43. Print. The Humorous Construction of Disability: ‘Stand-Up’ Comedians in the United States Disability and Society 21 629 43 Google Scholar

Roets, Griet, and Dan Goodley. "Disability, Citizenship and Uncivilized Society: The Smooth and Nomadic Qualities of Self-Advocacy." Disability Studies Quarterly 28.4 (2008): 1-20. Web. 14 October 2011. Disability, Citizenship and Uncivilized Society: The Smooth and Nomadic Qualities of Self-Advocacy Disability Studies Quarterly 28 1 20 Google Scholar

Roulstone, Alan. Enabling Technology: Disabled People, Work and New Technology. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open UP, 1998. Print. Enabling Technology: Disabled People, Work and New Technology Google Scholar

Rowe, Kathleen. The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter. Austin: U of Texas P, 1995. Print. The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter Google Scholar

Sanders, Clinton R. "Understanding Dogs: Caretakers' Attributions of Mindedness in Canine-Human Relationships." Social Creatures: A Human and Animal Studies Reader. Ed. Clifton P. Flynn. New York: Lantern Books, 2009. 59-74. Print. Social Creatures: A Human and Animal Studies Reader 59 74 Google Scholar

Schegloff, Emanuel A. "Getting Serious: Joke → Serious ‘No’." Journal of Pragmatics 33 (2001): 1947-55. Print. Getting Serious: Joke → Serious ‘No’ Journal of Pragmatics 33 1947 55 Google Scholar

Spiegel, Marjorie. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. London: Heretic, 1988. Print. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery Google Scholar

Sunderland, Naomi, Tara Catalano, and Elizabeth Kendall. "Missing Discourses: Concepts of Joy and Happiness in Disability." Disability and Society 24.6 (2009): 703-14. Print. Missing Discourses: Concepts of Joy and Happiness in Disability Disability and Society 24 703 14 Google Scholar

Temple, Mick. "Dumbing Down Is Good for You." British Politics 1.2 (2006): 267-73. Print. Dumbing Down Is Good for You British Politics 1 267 73 Google Scholar

Thussu, Daya Kishan. News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment. London: Sage, 2009. Print. News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment Google Scholar

Wolfe, Cary. What Is Posthumanism? Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 2010. Print. What Is Posthumanism? Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Trans. Hélène Iswolsky. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1984 (1965). Print. Rabelais and His World Google Scholar

Billig, Michael. Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London: Sage, 2005. Print. Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour Google Scholar

Campbell, Fiona Kumari. Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009. Print. Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness Google Scholar

Charlton, James. "The Dimensions of Disability Oppression." The Disability Studies Reader. 3rd edn. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2010. 147-59. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 147 59 Google Scholar

Corbett, Jenny. "Introduction." Bad-Mouthing: The Language of Special Needs. Ed. Jenny Corbett. London: The Falmer P, 1996. 1-6. Print. Bad-Mouthing: The Language of Special Needs 1 6 Google Scholar

Corker, Mairian, and Tom Shakespeare, eds. Disability/Postmodernism: Embodying Disability Theory. London and New York: Continuum, 2002. Print. Disability/Postmodernism: Embodying Disability Theory Google Scholar

Corner, John. The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996. Print. The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary Google Scholar

Dugan, Emily. "Francesca Martinez: A wobbly girl's battle against the last taboo." The Independent. 8 November. 2009. 26. Print. Francesca Martinez: A wobbly girl's battle against the last taboo The Independent. Google Scholar

Edwards, Steven D. Disability: Definitions, Value and Identity. Oxford and Seattle: Radcliffe, 2005. Print. Disability: Definitions, Value and Identity Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: The Will to Knowledge. Trans. Robert Hurley. London: Pengiun, 1998 (1976). Print. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: The Will to Knowledge Google Scholar

Goodley, Dan. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. London: Sage, 2011. Print. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction Google Scholar

Green, David G. We're (Nearly) All Victims Now! How Political Correctness Is Undermining Our Liberal Culture. London: Civitas, 2006. Print. We're (Nearly) All Victims Now! How Political Correctness Is Undermining Our Liberal Culture Google Scholar

Hughes, Geoffrey. Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print. Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture Google Scholar

Jenkins, Ron. Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy. New York: The Free P, 1994. Print. Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy Google Scholar

Johnson, Kelley. People with Intellectual Disabilities: Towards a Good Life? Bristol: Policy P, 2010. Print. People with Intellectual Disabilities: Towards a Good Life? Google Scholar

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgement. Trans. J. H. Bernard. London: Macmillan, 1931 (1790). Print. Critique of Judgement Google Scholar

Klein, Allen. The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing the Face of Death and Dying. New York: Tarcher/Putnam. 1998. Print. The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing the Face of Death and Dying Google Scholar

Lipman, Steve. Laughter in Hell: The Use of Humor during the Holocaust. Lanham: Jason Aronson. 1993. Print. Laughter in Hell: The Use of Humor during the Holocaust Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York, London: New York UP, 2006. Print. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability Google Scholar

Mast, Jelle. "New Directions in Hybrid Popular Television: A Reassessment of Television Mock-Documentary." Media, Culture and Society 31.2 (2009): 231-50. Print. New Directions in Hybrid Popular Television: A Reassessment of Television Mock-Documentary Media, Culture and Society 31 231 50 Google Scholar

Mills, Brett. The Sitcom. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009. Print. The Sitcom Google Scholar

Morreall, John. Taking Laughter Seriously. Albany: State U of New York P, 1983. Print. Taking Laughter Seriously Google Scholar

Mulkay, Michael. On Humour: Its Nature and Place in Modern Society. Cambridge: Polity P, 1988. Print. On Humour: Its Nature and Place in Modern Society Google Scholar

Neale, Steve, and Frank Krutnik. Popular Film and Television Comedy. London and New York: Routledge, 1990. Print. Popular Film and Television Comedy Google Scholar

Nichols, Bill. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. Print. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary Google Scholar

Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd edn. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print. Introduction to Documentary Google Scholar

Panksepp, Jaak, and Jeff Burgdorf. "‘Laughing’ Rats and the Evolutionary Antecedents of Human Joy?" Physiology and Behaviour 79 (2003): 533-47. Print. ‘Laughing’ Rats and the Evolutionary Antecedents of Human Joy? Physiology and Behaviour 79 533 47 Google Scholar

Reid, D. Kim, Edy Hammond Stoughton, and Robin M. Smith. "The Humorous Construction of Disability: ‘Stand-Up’ Comedians in the United States." Disability and Society 21.6 (2006): 629-43. Print. The Humorous Construction of Disability: ‘Stand-Up’ Comedians in the United States Disability and Society 21 629 43 Google Scholar

Roets, Griet, and Dan Goodley. "Disability, Citizenship and Uncivilized Society: The Smooth and Nomadic Qualities of Self-Advocacy." Disability Studies Quarterly 28.4 (2008): 1-20. Web. 14 October 2011. Disability, Citizenship and Uncivilized Society: The Smooth and Nomadic Qualities of Self-Advocacy Disability Studies Quarterly 28 1 20 Google Scholar

Roulstone, Alan. Enabling Technology: Disabled People, Work and New Technology. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open UP, 1998. Print. Enabling Technology: Disabled People, Work and New Technology Google Scholar

Rowe, Kathleen. The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter. Austin: U of Texas P, 1995. Print. The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter Google Scholar

Sanders, Clinton R. "Understanding Dogs: Caretakers' Attributions of Mindedness in Canine-Human Relationships." Social Creatures: A Human and Animal Studies Reader. Ed. Clifton P. Flynn. New York: Lantern Books, 2009. 59-74. Print. Social Creatures: A Human and Animal Studies Reader 59 74 Google Scholar

Schegloff, Emanuel A. "Getting Serious: Joke → Serious ‘No’." Journal of Pragmatics 33 (2001): 1947-55. Print. Getting Serious: Joke → Serious ‘No’ Journal of Pragmatics 33 1947 55 Google Scholar

Spiegel, Marjorie. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. London: Heretic, 1988. Print. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery Google Scholar

Sunderland, Naomi, Tara Catalano, and Elizabeth Kendall. "Missing Discourses: Concepts of Joy and Happiness in Disability." Disability and Society 24.6 (2009): 703-14. Print. Missing Discourses: Concepts of Joy and Happiness in Disability Disability and Society 24 703 14 Google Scholar

Temple, Mick. "Dumbing Down Is Good for You." British Politics 1.2 (2006): 267-73. Print. Dumbing Down Is Good for You British Politics 1 267 73 Google Scholar

Thussu, Daya Kishan. News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment. London: Sage, 2009. Print. News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment Google Scholar

Wolfe, Cary. What Is Posthumanism? Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 2010. Print. What Is Posthumanism? Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Mills, Brett