The episode “Fizz Ed” demonstrates the generative
elements of Daria’s cynicism as obstruction. Lawndale High is in a
financial crisis with outdated textbooks and learning materials.
Eventually, even the football team can’t afford proper practice
gear, triggering Principal Li’s concern. Principal Li purposefully
holds the referendum on the advertising contract during the Super
Bowl, and only Jane and Daria show up to question her decision:
Daria: This isn't about whether I
like soda. It's about
whether a public high
school should be using its
status as a place of
authority to serve as one
more marketing tentacle of
corporate America. With
the taxpayers subsidizing
it. This whole thing sucks.
They shouldn't be selling
stuff to people under the
guise of educating them.
Don't you think it's totally
unethical and
underhanded?
She makes a great point, so naturally Principal Li signs the contract
anyway (cue commercial break). Daria speaks her truth as a method
to at least refuse and impede the system. Daria’s voice of reason
ultimately wins out when the soda experiment cues the breakdown
of all school functionality. Let the system destroy itself. Daria
represents the counterpoint to what Lauren Berlant identifies as
“cruel optimism,” a subjective trap of modernity:
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