Invalid animals: Finding the non-human funny in Special Needs Pets

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The promotional material for the Channel 4 documentary Special Needs Pets (2008) 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 encourages 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 this article suggests 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-335
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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