Monday, October 20, 2008

Daria: A Political Pickle

Among Daria's legion of fans is Michelle Malkin, a conservative political blogger and columnist who is only slightly (.01 mm) to the left of Ann Coulter in her outlook. Today is Mrs. Malkin's 38th birthday, and it seemed appropriate to pause for a moment and ask: how in the world did she become a Daria fan? I ask only because, in the TV series, Daria Morgendorffer generally espouses liberal views when she isn't being rude or sarcastic. Daria has never expressed a preference for any political party, but she is an agnostic and disrespects authority in every conceivable nonviolent way. (See this entry in DariaWiki for details; feel free to add some details as well.)

Michelle Malkin isn't alone, of course. There are a number of political conservatives who like Daria. They post their comments on PPMB and SFMB all the time. Mrs. Malkin herself said, "I admit to being a fan of the [MTV] network's dour cartoon comedy, 'Daria.' ...But the channel's main fare is a corrosive, constant, and instantly accessible mix of sex, drugs, violence, and vulgarity laced with hypocritical political correctness." Interestingly, you could say Daria doesn't like any of those things, either (unless maybe it's on Sick, Sad World).

Think for a moment, though. What kind of people get parodied on Daria? Tim O'Neill, the squishy New Age emotional teacher. Janet Barch, the man-hating feminist. Incompetent "butterfly" parent Amanda Lane. Helen and Jake Morgendorffer, the ex-hippie radicals who once marched on the Pentagon but now are wedded to The System in a bizarre manner. (Helen the corporate lawyer? Jake the corporate adviser?) Yes, true, there's right-wing autocrat Ms. Li, who gives a thumbs-up to George W. Bush and supports capital punishment, but most of the targets in the series, you could argue, are liberals. Look back at Beavis and Butt-head: wasn't Mr. Van Driessen singing "Lesbian Seagull" pretty silly, too? And there was the way Daria framed her question to President Clinton in the Beavis and Butt-head episode, "Citizen Butt-head." Not an automatic Friend of Bill, methinks.

It takes some thought, but you can understand why Daria's disdain for her world has such appeal for people across the political spectrum. In her own curious way, she's everyone's icon and no one's friend. Only someone like Daria could pull that off.

Comments? Post them either here or on DariaWiki at the link above.

Greystar's "Preemptive Strike" was finished five years ago today. The first part of "Mystik Spiral's Lonely Lawndale Band" begins seven years ago today. The freshest DariaWiki entry is one on black sunlight (go, Jane!). Enjoy.


E. A. Smith said...

Maybe Malkin likes Daria for reasons that have nothing to do with politics. Contrary to popular belief, Conservatives do have a sense of humor, and we don't view everything through the lens of political ideology. Conservatives and liberals alike can appreciate the ideals and attitude of one who sees through the BS of the world around her and stands firm in what she believes.

The Angst Guy said...

My favorite conservative humorist is P.J. O'Rourke. :)

The Angst Guy said...

Now that I look at what I wrote in the blog, it looks sort of dorky. I probably should have let someone else write it. Oh, well. Try again later.

RM said...

Years later, social science demonstrates that conservatives enjoy Colbert and Jon Stewart's satire and see it as skewering liberals - wwhich shouldn't be as much of a surprise since C & S bash trans women and other perceived icons of political correctness regularly, but even setting that aside, liberals and conservatives (not sure if they mmeant "left" and "right" ie including current radicals and such) see the same riffs as unambiguous and supporting their side. And Stewart has openly celebrated Democrat wins while Colbert admits to lampooning right wing darling Bill OReilly, so in another way it's even less ambiguous than Daria. However, if Daria is anywhere on the right, she's its bleeding left edge, threatening to become a radical collectivist at any moment, considering she seriously ddesires the abolition of money and has shown enough interest in economics and history to get exposed to alternagive proposals in college. Her brief display of anticommunism is probably as much to delight Rambo fans among her classmates as to disturb O'Neill - in that light she could have meant to pique aapolitical students' interest while prompting a near immediate rebuttal she wouldn't have tto deliver herself.

Point being I think this essay is useful and vindicated.

RM said...

Suddenly occurs to me Daria was as much alternative (the way we said it in the 90s) as political, perhaps - mmaybe more so. Her reaction to political forces was always similar to her reaction to hypocrites, as if even a politics of radical honesty and humility would be too suspicious to join. While her wishy washy politics are no doibt related to the corporate imperative not to alienate groups of ccustomersrecognizable to said corporation, MTV at least gave it a plausible explanation and ig makes sense to me for the left or right to enjoy its political perspectives (though I can guess Bush's least favorite episode, I think). Just to illustrate ghe spectrum here I'm far left wing and anarchistic (libertarian communist).