Scorn and the City

Scorn and the City

In time for the release of what seems like the worst female-centric movie ever made, comes a ray of hope from the past: the entire animated series of Daria.

Daria was sarcasm personified. She’s the person everyone wishes they were: the girl with the witty comebacks, summoned instantly for any situation. She didn’t care about petty things, she didn’t care about pretty things–most of the time she just didn’t care. But she was funny, savagely so. And smart. And unafraid. And for six glorious years, she influenced an entire generation of girls.

I spent the formative years of my life watching her, buying anything remotely tied to her, dressing like her for Halloween and costume parties. She was me; in a sea of Brittneys and Fashion Clubs she spoke to us girls who wanted more. We were the girls who talked to adults like equals. We were the girls who didn’t understand why it was SO important to attract the attention of the boy-of-the-month. We’re the girls who actually liked reading books, especially books that made grown-ups uncomfortable. We’re the girls who refused to adhere to standards, normal or double, because that’s not who were were. We’re the girls with band-aids on our knees, pulling our dresses over our heads because they’re hot and silly and we want to play in the mud.

Generation Daria is older now. We’re among the first wave of women to outnumber men in college. We’re climbing our way into the ranks of male-dominated fields, along with our older sisters, winning attention and accolades and praise.

At the same time, we have to do more. There is a whole generation of girls now growing up with Bella, not Daria; waiting for their Vampire to come instead of realizing that finding Mr. Toothy Charming is not important; who are told their only wish is to aspire to the ranks of that cult of Jimmy Choo, the girls from Sex and the City. They have no Daria; they have no My So-Called Life, or Powerpuff Girls, or Alex Mack, or Scully, or Alias, or any inkling that women are allowed to be just as complex as men. The “heroines” of our little sisters fail the Bechdel test every time, and unless we can show them life does not revolve around hollow romance and lip-gloss, we’ll have failed them too.

They need a Daria, and if they can’t get a new one, hopefully watching the old one will suffice.