“That is One Big Wiener!”: Accessibility, Irony, and Odd Job Jack

By Isabel Pedersen and Kristen Aspevig.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Odd Job Jack is a Canadian-made animated TV comedy (Smiley Guy Studios). Like other shows in the style of South Park, Family Guy, and The Simpsons, Odd Job Jack makes use of off-colour themes, black humour, and sexual innuendo, for both entertaining and political ends. It also makes heavy use of the trope of irony, which involves saying one thing and meaning another for dramatic effect within the “discursive communities” that understand the ironic joke (Linda Hutcheon, Irony’s Edge). In the case of Odd Job Jack, irony enables the comical satire of the over-educated, unemployed main character, Jack Ryder (voice by Don McKellar), but also the satire of cultural and sometimes political scenarios upon which he stumbles. Like many television productions, Odd Job Jack is made accessible to people who are blind or have low vision through Described Video Information (DVI), however, Odd Job Jack features a new approach to described video developed by Smiley Guy Studios and the Center for Learning Technologies at Ryerson University in Toronto. Unlike traditional DVI that features an “objective” voiceover describing visual events, this new approach means that a character in the show relays events from a first-person perspective. While traditional DVI can undermine subtle modes of irony, this new form encompasses the spoken descriptions within the art piece. We argue that it maintains the ironic instances in the narrative, making irony accessible to people in a different way. This paper draws on theoretical writing by several authors including Linda Hutcheon, Salvatore Attardo, and Claire Colebrook.

Keywords: Irony, Inclusivity, Described Video Information, Humour, Accessibility

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.143-156. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.098MB).

Dr. Isabel Pedersen

Assistant Professor, Department of Professional Communication, Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Isabel Pedersen (B.A. M.A. Ph.D.), is an Assistant Professor of Professional Communication in the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University. Her research deals with reality-augmenting media including wearable and mobile interfaces in terms of rhetoric, semiotics, metaphor, and emerging design concepts. She is currently planning a book dealing with Augmented Reality (AR) and mobile computer devices.

Dr. Kristen Aspevig

PhD Candidate, Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Kristen Aspevig is a PhD candidate in the Communication and Culture Program at Ryerson and York Universities. She has a B.A. from McGill University and an M.A. from Ryerson and York Universities. She has taught courses in Professional Communication and Cultural Studies at Ryerson University. She has also worked as a Media analyst in the private sector, and in various capacities in the independent film industry.


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