For our final presentation, our group filmed our own docu-parody wherein characters dressed as one theorist speak lines reflecting the viewpoint of another. Essentially, they all bumble around being ridiculous, acting out parts we think will produce sufficient commentary.
MY CHARACTER SUMMARY
While it is difficult to comment on a film you have yet to see, I can tell you that the character I created is a woman pimped out against her will. She eventually becomes a cyborg with found parts and learns that she is with child, MiniBorg. Dreaming of the child’s future, she spouts off some Derridian dissallusionment about the failure of merriment when it is created from broken toys, planning to circumvent this for the sake of her child.
Haraway with a dash of Derrida
My interpretation of the text is obviously influenced by Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs.” To focus first on the character of Oppressed Woman, she is nameless and only called “baby.” It is as though her own identity is something she cannot claim, yet her body is taken. She is pimped out, a slave to the male dominated power structure the likes of which Haraway seeks to escape. Haraway believes that the cyborg can exist outside the confines of Western duality. As new beings, they can be recoded. In the film, once Oppressed Woman becomes Cyborg, she is empowered and moves on.
MiniBorg, the bastard child of Oppressed Woman and Mickey Mouse, is a genderless zygote bridging the gap between male/female, physical/non-physical, human/machine… and cyborg/mouse. This last lovely twist joins humans and machines with animals at once, breaking down all the barriers. Because cyborgs have no origin story, no dominating patriarchal tradition or otherwise, there exists possibility for freedom from Western dualisms which Haraway names as:
“Self/other, mind/body, culture/nature, male/female, civilized/primitive, reality/appearance, whole/part, agent/resource, maker/made, active/passive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, God/man” (Haraway 2296).
Haraway also says that “social and historical constitution, gender, race, and class cannot provide the basis for belief in ‘essential unity’ (2275). We must deconstruct the labels, the sense of other, and in turn deconstruct oppression.
The conception of MiniBorg, the little “hu-mouse-chine,” demonstrates Derrida’s decentering as he says:
Ethnology could have been born as a science only at the moment when European culture . . . had been dislocated . . . forced to stop considering itself as the culture of reference? (Derrida 918).
The same holds true for a male dominant culture. In the film, the Marxist Pimp is the obvious power center, but not for long. Hope lies with the MiniBorg Messiah who will?dislocate Marxist Pimp power and create a new center. As Haraway says, illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. In this case, that’s a good thing.
In both our docu-parody and our commentary, the characters and presenters have been incorporated onto disc. They/we are now cyborgs as technology is part of us/them. This is one more way of merging with and educating through communications machines, recoding meaning for ourselves. Of course, Haraway would say the we are all cyborgs already, with or without the disc.