comfortable suburban existence. Working from Baudrillard’s
definition of dissimulation: “to dissimulate is to feign not to have
what one has” (Baudrillard “Simulation” 167), one could argue her
outlook functions as a dissimulation of privilege, belonging, and
outsider status. Daria’s dark attitude is supposed to demonstrate
her outside-ness relative to the popular kids, yet she lives in her
large house, maintains occasionally friendly relationships with
Brittany and Kevin, and has the benefits of suburban resource and
educational privilege pushing her toward a bright future. Her
choice in black clothing, Doc Martens, and tragic disposition only
demonstrates the “excessive proliferation of signs of the real and
the authentic” by allowing Daria to hold onto some modicum of
choice while she feels trapped and resentful of their suburban
prison (Auslander 208).
Nick Salvato characterizes Daria’s navigation tactic
through high school fondly, however:
Cynical accommodation to systems and structures whose
navigation is inevitable, but in navigating which tactical
accommodation need not become accommodationist strategy: a
critical cynicism that works precisely to identify and defend
against such accommodationism…(Salvato 22)
Daria’s position as a teenage girl reflects the learned helplessness
of those who desire sociopolitical change in the face of inescapable
systems of power. As a high school student, Daria cannot feasibly
exist or gain the skills she needs to escape without the temporary
compromise of living through her suburban path to adult
liberation. Similarly, social forces have made it nearly impossible to
resist neoliberal capitalism without engaging in it on some level.
Recognizing contradictions through cynicism functions as a form
of “paradoxically generative” affect rather than falling into the trap
of “the enlightened false consciousness of postmodernity”
(Salvato 134; Sloterdijk 5).
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