Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Cause I haven't made BG's brain explode lately.

So, I've noticed that Daria is popularly thought to be very attractive--perhaps even more so than Quinn. Since all of the characters on Daria look fairly nondescript, being somewhat simply drawn cartoon characters, fans tend to point to the climactic scene from the episode "Quinn the Brain" to support this.

After all, Daria gives herself a makeover, and anyone who's seen a movie or TV show geared toward teenagers knows that's the way to turn a humdrum teen girl into a smoking hot one, right? ;)

There's also Quinn's reaction to Daria's makeover. She feels threatened, which clinches it, right? Quinn wouldn't feel threatened by Daria's appearance if Daria was not, in fact, at least as attractive as Quinn.


I'd like to offer a new way of looking at this scene. First, there's the obvious "parody" aspect of the scene. As mentioned previously, just about every young adult movie and/or TV show has done some variation on the "plain girl puts on makeup and fluffs her hair, then becomes supermodel" trope. "Quinn the Brain" has the plain girl put on makeup and fluff her hair--then turn around and revert back to her former appearance before more than one person even sees her.

Second, many people seem to overlook the parallelism of Daria's actions. All of the events leading up to that moment include Quinn "taking over" Daria's persona. She writes, she says "brainy" things, she dresses unfashionably, etc. Daria feels threatened by this, even though we all know she has no reason to be. No one would argue that Quinn's poem about the greasy fry is a masterpiece, or that her philosophizing about school work is the most ingenious idea since Darwin. The point is that Daria sees those things as defining her, and Quinn is now being recognized for them instead.

So, when Daria decides to fight back by taking over the aspects of Quinn's personality that define Quinn, there's no reason to assume that she successfully surpasses or even equals Quinn's appearance. Yes, Quinn felt threatened, but simply because she saw someone else usurping her persona--successfully or not--in the same way Daria felt threatened by Quinn. In short, Daria's makeover is the "greasy fry poem" of attractiveness.

This is not, of course, the only way to interpret that episode. Certainly it's possible that Daria walked out of her bedroom looking like the love child of Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba. However, keep in mind that there exist plenty of women out there whose looks were between average and okay, who watched Daria in high school because they liked seeing another "average to okay" girl who reminded them that her appearance was irrelevant compared to her intelligence and sense of humor.

Am I saying there's no way Daria could possibly be attractive? Not at all. Am I saying that fandom should not ever consider Daria to be at supermodel heights of attractiveness? Nope. However, I think that, from now on, anyone who declares Daria to be the "hot" sister must also recognize Quinn as the "smart" sister.

It's only fair, after all! :-D


brnleague99 said...

You say that Quinn would not be threatened if Daria were not at least as hot as she? Maybe Quinn's just a paranoid personality? Now there's an idea for a fic, Quinn with Paranoid Personality Disorder.

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

You say that Quinn would not be threatened if Daria were not at least as hot as she?(I think I'm reading that sentence right!)

Exactly as much as Daria was threatened by the "greasy fry" poem. Because, of course, Daria would not have felt threatened unless Quinn was the next Ernest Hemingway, right? ;)

Brother Grimace said...

For my response to this subject, I refer all comers to Richard Lobinske's fourth story in the 'Falling Into College' series, 'Freshman Spread'.

Brother Grimace said...

From Karen and Quinn's conversation in 'Freshman Spread':

"How does this sound? She was a small, intelligent girl with glasses, who was often picked on by other students and felt alienated from them. At home, she couldn't compete with you for attention. So, in defense, she withdrew into her books and tried to separate herself from the world that hurt her. As she got older, she developed a body that attracted the kind of attention she no longer knew how to accept, and associated with people that caused her emotional pain. Therefore, she began to hide her appearance so she wouldn't have to deal with it."

Show me a more in-canon definition of how Daria deals with her appearance that actually fits the canon Daria, and that person gets a cookie. :-)

Brother Grimace said...

Oh, and because I care:


I expecially thought that you'd enjoy the background vocals... :-)

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

Can't watch the video right now, BG--I'm at work (Shhh!) :)

Don't get me wrong: I never said Daria couldn't be attractive. In fact, I specifically said the opposite! I'm just making the point that there's no reason she definitely is attractive.

And on behalf of all the average-looking girls out there, I say there's nothing wrong with that. Statistically speaking, most of us are average--that's why it's the "average." :)

brnleague99 said...

If it makes you happy, I have been stabbed three times since my earlier post. It WAS by a dentist, but beggars can't be choosers.

Brother Grimace said...

'And on behalf of all the average-looking girls out there, I say there's nothing wrong with that. Statistically speaking, most of us are average--that's why it's the "average." :)'

See - this is the point that annoys. Many women think that they're 'average', because TPTB always throw specific body- and hair-types up and say 'this is what's beautiful' - but in the meanwhile, you have to understand that guys, when we're young, are just looking for warm, female, with a pulse and willing! After we do a little bit of growing up, chasing everything and occasionaly getting stomped, THEN we figure out what we like in a girl... and I can assure you, we're not all modelizers. Again, I point you to 'Falling Into College' as a good example.

People make 'being average' sound bad, and it isn't. It's a compilation of all of one's traits. Every woman has traits that can make her appealing - and you know that it's not about looks. To be, Angelina Jolie is not that attractive; it's her attitude that makes her incredibly appealing. As Trent says in LLH 11:1 (Quick, QW - Drink!),

'His eyes moved over from Sandi to Stacy, and he focused on singing as his eyes touched hers for a brief moment… and she gave him a smile.

THAT smile. The smile only a woman has, when she sees you looking at her – and her attitude is ‘Go ahead and look. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t mind.’ The look Angelina Joile used to build herself a career.'

I also have to say that Daria was NEVER meant to be, in any way, 'the average girl'. (Who started that idea, or the idea that Daria was supposed to be some standard-bearer for average girls? Season One Daria - 'Daria Triumphant' would have verbally bitch-slapped anyone who even suggested that, saying that they need to stop following and start making their own paths.)

First of all, Daria's intelligence puts her avove 97% of everyone in the show. Second, as we've seen in many episodes, it's been pointed out to Daria that it's not her appearance that's the problem, it's her attitude - and once people manage to get past her attitude, they see that she is an attractive girl. Third - Daria WORKS at making herself unattractive and unappealing to the rst of the world. 'Turnabout Confusion' gives a perfect example of exactly what would happen if Daria wore just normal, average, everyday clothing; this is also brought up in 'Kidnapped!' when Jane says 'Your boy-repellant clothing is now as obsolete as the Maginot Line, Daria. It no longer has a purpose.'

Once again - there's nothing wrong with being 'average' - whatever the hell that is, anyway. Every single damned woman I've ever met that was actually worth something DIDN'T think that she was anything BUT average in appearance (Thank you, TV, for making generations of women feel worthless), and I've seemed to notice that unless you're actively trying NOT to have someone in your lives... you all seem to end up with wedding rings or long-term significant others at home somewhere.

So much for 'I look average' or 'I'm not pretty enough'. I am SO sick of hearing that... especially since I get to hear the guys who see you walk past fall over things and forget to put the spoon of food in their mouths instead of their shirt pockets, let along the choruses of 'Damn, Gerald - I didn't know that you knew women that looked like THAT!'

End of rant.

ninetwelve said...

I'vee always though of it that way. I mean honestly the hottest girl in the school isn't going to be a squeeky short red-head- but her personality (lack of?) is what sold it.

Honestly in the fashion club sandi or tiffany have more downright-good looks. But the 'girl next door' thing also made its mark in regards to Stacy and Quinn. They were cute- but approachable.

So when Daria took on Quinn's attributes it was more of just 'being' Quinn rather than looking like Quinn.

Even Quinn is concious of the sibling rivalry when she says "You Win."

They were both characitures of each other without the depth to back it up- Quinn could never be *as* smart as Daria even if she were smart, and Daria could never be *as* pretty as quinn even if she wasn't a Chud.

There's a nice duality in it- realizing each other and their own limitations.

And lets not forget the boys weren't rabid over Daria's inherit hotness- they were playing along with her masterplot- following orders.

No one in the show ever implied Daria was hot in her new look. Quinn simply acknowledged that she was faking when she saw Daria pull the same routine.

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

People make 'being average' sound bad, and it isn't.That's...almost exactly what I just said, BG. "Average" doesn't equal "ugly" or "not pretty enough." It means "average." Full stop.

As for guys not caring about looks, well, I'm not even going to touch that one. Maybe it looks different from "the other side," so I'll just leave that there. :p

Your rant aside, I think we're agreeing with each other at the top of our lungs. ;)

Thanks, ninetwelve. I forgot to mention that part; thanks for bringing it up. :)

Brother Grimace said...

Don't get me wrong: I never said Daria couldn't be attractive. In fact, I specifically said the opposite! I'm just making the point that there's no reason she definitely is attractive.

Counterpoints to your argument:

1.) Trent comments that if she were older - they could go out. He wants to go out with her, and age is the only boundary. HE thinks that she's attractive - it's not as if he couldn't just hang out with her anywhere as friends, right? - and as Trent has girls like Monique to compare her with, one must assume that Trent thinks that Daria is also attractive.

2.) Trent lets her down easy - the smart idea in dealing with girls you might want to go out with someday, as it leaves the door open and keeps her from thinking evil thoughts about you.

3.) Tom makes every effort possible to get in good with her while dating Jane. Really - how many guys who are actually dating some girl actually care about what her friends think - after all, she's not going to be thinking about the best friend when she's in the back seat of the car, or on the living-room couch with her shirt off... He was prepping the field because he saw a cuter girl and the opportunity might be there to get in good with her after he proke it off with Jane. Do you really think Tom 'I sleep with college co-eds and sorority girls if I want' Sloane is going to go for someone less attractive, do you?

4.) Tom's been brought up to go for a certain quality in a girl. If Daria didn't meet a certain level of mental and physical qualifications, do you think that he would have gotten in a relationship with her or allowed her to meet his family - especially with the baggage of her being the best friend of the girl he dated before her?

5.) Trent drives up. 'Hey, Daria. Looking good.' The quintessential compliment to a pretty girl you see walking down the street.

6.) The Sarah Palin Theorem applies - Daria is neither a pit bull or a pig, and the facial accessories simply accentuated what was already there... which is what those things are supposed to do - right, ladies?

In five seasons and two movies, no one has ever said Daria was unattractive or even average in appearance. They have, however, mentioned frequently that Daria is 'weird' - and that stems from (a.) the things she's into, (b.) the clothing that she chooses to wear, and (3.) the glasses that she chooses to wear as a shield against the world.

One last point:

8.) Daria has proven without a doubt that she doesn't care about the opinions of the people around her, and in fact, prefers to be left alone. Given that, Daria could wear anything that she chose - if she had no considerations about how her style of dress would affect the perceptions of those around her. If Daria wore a less-standoffish frame for her glasses or even average outfits for high school, she would start getting more male attention that would generate the opinion that she's a 'Heather #1 - the hot chick that's also a uber-bitch if you get on her bad side.'

End of that rant. :-)

Brother Grimace said...

That's another thing - I don't think that she's a 'hot chick' (for that matter, neither is Quinn. Helen,on the other hand...:-)). I think of her as in 'Falling Into College' - she's an attractive young woman, nothing modelesque, who has a personality, when around people she likes and feels comfortable around, that illuminates her.

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

Points 1 - 5 don't count, because you yourself already said guys don't care about looks.

Point seven I'll give you: Daria is probably more attractive than Sarah Palin. ;)

Point seven (I assume the unnumbered one is seven) doesn't work because no one really said she's particularly attractive either.

Point eight? I'm not sure what you're saying. If she dressed prettier, she'd be prettier?

So, was brain detonation successful or do I need to try harder next time? ;)

Brother Grimace said...

Oh, we care about looks. (Sorry about making it seem like I'm an outright liar. :-)) It's not the primary consideration, though, when you start caring.

Oh - and I've seen what women are like around male models and strippers. You ladies have NO room to talk...

A couple of my frat brothers would make hardcore lesbians reconsider their choices in life. Not surprisingly, one was a total asshat of a personality, and the other was a blank slate with less personality than the left side of a fly's ass.

We're all jackasses on that subject.

Brother Grimace said...

Noh - not yet. I think you're correct in that we're both on the same page on this.

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

Oh - and I've seen what women are like around male models and strippers. You ladies have NO room to talk...Oh, don't worry; I frequently tell Bryan I married him partly for his intelligence and sense of humor, and partly for his nice ass. Why quibble over specific percentages? ;)

Мавроев said...

We don't really know is Quinn a beautiful girl or not. Yeah, she wear fashionable outfits and have many dates so we can say that she is not ugly and attractive. But that does not mean that Quinn is really very beautiful. Quinn is a very socialised girl and can compensate some flaws of her look using the conversation skills (remember "Cafe Disaffecto" and "Speedtrapped"). She could be afraid of Daria using the same strategy (with three J for the first time). Also the super intellect of Daria is a myth too. May be she can write stories and studies very well. But you should not really be a genius to have good marks in your school. She does not deal with other people because she does not want to do it. When she found Jane, Trent or Tom, she deals with them actively, through they are not a megaintellectuals (especially Trent). Also she does not deal with Jodi and Mack actively through they are not dunmb.
Also we do not know the intellectual level of the Lawndale High people. At least, we can see four non-dumb speaking characters: Jodie, Mack, DeWitt-Clinton, and Upchuck. (Yeah. Upchuck is not a very socialised person, but he demonstrate the sport commentator, DJ, magician and may be web-master and e-businessman skills through the series. I think he must have the good IQ to use all those skills) The real dumb character is only one -- Kevin. (And may be three J, but they are sportsmen too so it is not a representative fact.) The most of LHS students can be intellectual enough. Also we can notice that Daria prefer LHS students to the school for gifted students.
So I think both Morgendorrffer sisters are girls with normal look (not a model) and good IQ (but not superintellectual), through they use these abilities differently.

the nightgoblyn said...

This is a very interesting conversation. Lots of viewpoints I hadn't considered.

I do think Daria consistently downgraded her appearance as much as possible, due to her lack of desire to deal with drooling teenage boys.

the bug guy said...

She ended up being what the writers or cartoonists wanted her to be.

In "Too Cute":
Guy - We've been here an hour! When's my girlfriend gonna get her new breasts?

Receptionist - Dr. Shar is very busy, Sir. Quinn Morgendorffer!

Guy - Hey wait! We were here first! (sees Daria) Oh, whoa, emergency. I understand.

Then when have Daria's iconic appearence in "Quinn the Brain" (though you could argue she augmented her look with "Dr. Shar's Pre-Implant Temporary Bust Augmentations") When you consider the lack of noticible curves when she was wearing an Okay To Cry t-shirt, augmentation becomes more plausible. Or, the cartoonists got lazy and didn't want to draw them. :)

The Angst Guy said...

How in the HELL did you get 19 responses to this post, when I write and write and write and get like two responses? Life sucks.

And Daria is not beautiful. In college she will get a small but devoted cadre who like brainy nerdy girls, following her around asking if they can polish her Mensa ring or fluff her bootlaces.

Dennis said...

Bug Guy:

In "The Teachings of Don Jake" Daria and Quinn are in t-shirts when Helen wakes them up in the morning. You can clearly see Daria's curves, which are about the same size as Quinn's.

Which means that Daria can be whatever you want her to be. (Unless you want her to be a penguin. That only works for TAG.)

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

"How in the HELL did you get 19 responses to this post, when I write and write and write and get like two responses?"

Because I bribed everyone to post a whole bunch. So :p

P.S.: 22 now.

The Kristen Bealer Guy said...

By the way, the movie She's All That is on WGN right now. I find that incredibly funny. :D

P.S.: 23.

Scissors MacGillicutty said...

Daria is certainly alterna-cute in a 90s way, because that's what the higher ups at MTV mandated Eichler and company make her.

Given a large and diverse enough social setting—for example, at a large college or university—she might be considered quite an 'it' girl (as in "She's got it," not "What is it?") and have no shortage of suitors. Hell, even her personality AS IT IS could be an attractor.

Y'all need to get out more.

Brother Grimace said...

Y'all need to get out more.

Working on it, old boy.

The Angst Guy said...

Hell, even her personality AS IT IS could be an attractor."Degrade me, Daria!"

"No, degrade me first!"

"Use scathing sarcasm on my naked soul! You know I want it!"

Scissors MacGillicutty said...

TAG: you mean to tell me you've never seen people try to get on the good side of the sharpest wit at a party? Even though they might have to suffer being the target of that wit more than an innocent bystander?

DARIA: Ken, it's as if you're following me around and practically asking me to degrade you.

KEN: (sly yet puppyish) Well, would you?

DARIA: I could...if I could think of an indignity you haven't already subjected yourself to.

KEN: (roars with laughter)

DARIA: That was too easy.

KEN: (whispers in her ear) Wait till we get back to my place...I'll show you easy.

the bug guy said...

Scissors, that was...EWW. Believable, but, EWW.


Scissors MacGillicutty said...

Believable works for me. So does "EWW," but that kinda goes without saying. :)

The Angst Guy said...

I want to know how THIS DAMN POST got twice as many responses as my subsequent post. I think it's criminal.

Brother Grimace said...

Oh, yes - my brain wanted me to to tell you that this thread isn't one of those things that make it go 'Boom!'

(brain starts dancing)

Scissors MacGillicutty said...

See also.

Brother Grimace said...

"He tasks me. He tasks me, Joachim, and I shall have him."

Brother Grimace said...

I really do need to do the sarcasm better. NOW can we get a snark smiley - or at least a wet fish smiley for TAG to have impure thoughts with? :-)

Dennis said...

"I don't like to lose."

What? I thought we were doing a quote-off.