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Free Content ‘You’re standing on my neck’: Feminist cynicism and queer anti sociality in MTV’s Daria

‘Look right through me / Say I’m gloomy / Yea, so sue me [...] I’ve got to be direct / It’s like a big train wreck / You’re standing on my neck / You’re standing on my neck,’ sing post-grunge band Splendora, throughout the opening sequence to MTV’s popular 1990s cartoon series, Daria. Brooding, sarcastic, and surly, Daria Morgendorffer – a teenager and unapologetic misanthrope from the small, fictional town of Lawndale – has much to offer scholars of feminist negativity and queer anti-social theory. Following Lee Edelman’s rejection of a communitarian, heteronormative ‘politics of hope,’ this article seeks to theorize Daria as an important feminist killjoy and queer cynic; one who vehemently disavows the liberal humanist and capitalist-driven narratives of heroism, optimism, femininity and success that so often saturate teenage television programming. Lauding negativity’s ability to ‘poke holes in the toxic positivity of contemporary thinking’, as Jack Halberstam writes, this article is interested in the kinds of alternative imaginings that are produced by one’s refusal to ‘grow up’ and to ‘fit in’.

Keywords: Daria; cartoon; feminism; feminist killjoy; queer anti-social theory; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Queen’s University

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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