Admittedly, this is gonna be one of those “pining for the fjords” sort of posts. I realize fully that you can’t go back in time or fully re-capture something that influenced you during your formative years. Ergo, I’m going to make this more of a love letter than a time machine, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m not gonna get at least a little bit wistful about the topic.
This morning had me channel-surfing when I landed on a couple of episodes of Daria. In case those reading aren’t totally familiar, Daria is a spin-off series from Beavis and Butt-head, featuring the titular Daria Morgendorffer and her daily high school teenage life. On paper, it sounds stupendously trite, but for the time the show was vital.
See, Daria is a very morose and cynical character. She almost never smiles completely and epitomizes the phrase “Hell is other people”. She not only throws barbs fruitlessly at people who never seem to catch them, but she also continually is kept “average”. It’s not to infer that she didn’t really grow as a character, per se…but she never had some sort of miraculous blossoming moment.
And that is important. Because the show made it okay to not only realize that life can be pretty unfair, but also that it’s alright to be annoyed by it. Even find the humor in it.
When this show premiered, I was 17. It literally spoke to me on levels that were beyond timely–a crime that MTV is rightly almost never accused of anymore. Being a social outcast without fully understanding the person I was or being at peace with myself, Daria was a voice for me. She was a coping mechanism. She showed me that I wasn’t really alone in feeling like everything I was doing was pointless, and that it was okay to feel that way.
And I’m a guy. I can’t even fathom just how important she must be to girls who were my age and felt the same way. Especially when the show touched on things that only a girl of Daria’s age would have to put up with. It gave me empathy towards those situations…and I like to think that she helped out several young women too. At least, I hope she did. I know she did.
Nowadays, the social outcast is a sidecar. A sort of gimmick that lets the norm have a target to point and laugh at. I’m not really saying that a show like Daria is a teaching tool, but I have to think that more people would probably know how to deal with their anger at themselves and at life if there were more Daria Morgendorffers in fiction. As it stands now, most folks seem to only be able to lash out against their world in some horrible ways instead of understanding themselves. Daria taught me other ways of maneuvering through the bullshit river that is sometimes life. She instilled a sense of humor at the most idiotic and darkest times that I’m not sure I would have. She made it acceptable to be unaccepted.
As I sat there, watching those two episodes, I couldn’t help but find myself not caring anymore. At least, not at the moment. Sure, I love and appreciate what Daria has done for me at the time. I even hope that others can pick her up and use it as a way to come to grips with themselves like I have. But I didn’t feel anything about the show.
I guess…that means that it did its job. She did her job. I still don’t like parts of myself, but overall I got through the storm of those years and came to terms with life and how I approach it.
So…thanks, Miss Morgendorffer. I wish I could say I think you’re gonna be alright, but you’re not. You’re just gonna be. And that’s okay too. Even if almost everyone around you are morons. All one can do is just roll their eyes, move along and sing: