Wibbly-Wobbly Women for a Timey-Wimey Universe
I’ve got another post up at Cyborgology. This one is about the role of women/feminine compositional elements in “irrational” contemporary media formats and neoliberal political economy. It’s also about the season finale of Doctor Who.
Here’s an excerpt:
But the MPDG, though certainly a problem, doesn’t get resolved in either of these ways…because, I think, MPDG is part of a different media ecology. MPDGs, especially as depicted by the Doctor’s companion(s) Clara [Oswin], don’t get married and don’t die because the “illogical” logic of contemporary media forms do not require the assimilation or elimination of femininity. We’ve abandoned the linear teleology of narrative form and tonal harmony for the “wibbly-wobbly/timey-wimey” logic of what Steven Shaviro calls “post-cinematic” media, or the shock-and-awe pastiche of contemporary EDM (Electronic Dance Music). “Wibbly-wobbly/timey-wimey” media are generally organized as modular composites—there is no grand narrative or goal, just interchangeable parts. These parts are juxtaposed to produce maximum sensory/affective impact, usually in the form of “dissonance” (overdriven volume, speed, intensity, etc.). Wibbly-wobbly/timey-wimey upheaval and irrationality is the whole point of the story.
Men/masculinity are still the primary, orienting factor in such stories (and in the universe, real or fictive), even if the stories seem otherwise illogical and even if women’s “irrationality” gets a lot of play. MPDGs make their own noise—they do stuff, that’s why they’re “manic”. In older styles of film/music composition, this mania was corrosive and had to be eliminated. In wibbly-wobbly/timey-wimey contemporary media, this mania is generative of and for patriarchy.
Just think about what happens to Clara in the season finale: to save the Doctor, and thus time, the universe, and everything, Clara jumps into the time vortex. She doesn’t get married off (like River Song, Amy Pond, or even Martha Jones and Rose Tyler), and she doesn’t die. Instead, she goes viral (talk about manic), infecting space-time itself. A version of her inhabits each possible past and future moment. Her self-sacrifice is what maintains the time vortex at an optimal level of wibbly-wobbly/timey-wimey-ness, because it allows her to support the Doctor in every possible and actual moment in space-time.