fulfill certain analytical or classificatory tasks” for the purpose of
self-presentation in our worldly interactions, then any coherent
phenomenological study must explore the relational contours of
pop culture (Kellner 259). Brian L. Ott clarifies: “…television
furnishes consumers with explicit identity models,
models not of
who to be
but how to be. Viewers learn to fashion their identities
by watching popular characters fashion theirs. Second, television
furnishes consumers with the symbolic resources the actual
cultural bricks with which to (re)construct identity. Viewers
continuously construct and deconstruct their identities from those
bricks. Thus, television both shapes the nature of identity by
providing identity models and provides the symbolic resources for
enactment. (Ott 58)
This chapter proceeds from and aims to build on a rich
canon of cultural studies through an analysis of the relationship
between production and identity construction in the context of the
animated MTV sitcom Daria. In both its form and content, the
textual terrain of Daria demonstrates the tension of identity
development from the perspective of a suburban teenage girl in
order to illuminate the “sense of betweenness” characteristic of
contemporary identity (Kellner 49). Much like the audience of
MTV, Daria Morgendorffer exists in the liminal space between
childhood dependence on the tantalizing cusp of adulthood “not
a girl, not yet a woman” (I told you, I love Britney Spears). As an
alienated cynical teenager, Daria operates as a transgressive cultural
obstruction to the “truth” of suburban life; working through
moments and tropes of the show reveals the model of wish
fulfillment embedded within the simulation MTV tries to create
and the real it is trying to describe. Through the use of
“accommodational cynicism” Daria ultimately begs the question
what does it mean to resist, and is it futile?
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