This Actually Needs to Happen: The Daria Movie Trailer

Curator's Note

First, a confession/anecdote: a couple of years ago, one of my best friends and I went to see American Pie: Reunion. My friend and I, born on the late-1970s/early 1980s cusp between the end of Generation X and the beginning of Generation Y, were, by a long shot, the oldest people in the audience – something neither of us had experienced quite so starkly before. This “other” audience of fully-fledged Millennials were experiencing the film in an entirely different way to us: not just laughing in different places, but continuously engaging with their smartphones – texting, tweeting, etc.

Why is this relevant? Quite simply, because we are getting older. More precisely, “we”, the generation that grew up with MTV and made the original American Pie a runaway box office success, are beginning to experience genuine nostalgia for the first time in our lives.

It is significant that the fake trailer for the fake live-action movie of the real animated series Daria was produced by CollegeHumor, just as Johannes Mahlknecht’s example of the fake trailer for the Minesweeper movie. CollegeHumor’s fake trailers, as Johannes points out, use the audience’s intertextual awareness – of videogame adaptations and military films in the case of Minesweeper, and of emergent 90s nostalgia and the school reunion genre in the case of Daria. A growing range of films, from Beautiful Girls, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and Grosse Pointe Blank to American Pie: Reunion focus on the topic of the school reunion. In a slightly wider sense, films like Elizabethtown, Garden State and Young Adult deal with a return to the small town where the protagonists grew up and show a reunion between the protagonists and the environments and relationships they left behind.

The Daria Movie Trailer suggests a reunion, a return to the teen experience, not just for the characters, but also for us, the audience who grew up with the Daria cartoon, the so-called “MTV Generation”. It is a paratext to a text which doesn’t, strictly speaking, exist, but at the same time, its text isn’t just Daria, and not just the reunion film genre, but also my generation’s budding relationship with 90s nostalgia. It is this nostalgia that has prompted numerous viewers of the fake trailer to comment that the fake live-action adaptation ought to be made a reality.


Interesting cultural reversal that's being highlighted in the posts this week. The paratext comes into being before the text is created--if it ever will be. Could it be that in this age of sensory overload people are more interested in short snippets of cultural pleasure, just as long-form reading is diminishing? Yet Angelina suggests that nostalgic pleasure in this fake paratext is spawning desire (and demand?) for the missing longer text--exactly how an ad is supposed to work! In Jonathan's example, the paratext doesn't function well as an ad--he's had enough with the snippet of the non-existent text. For Angelina the creative fake trailer perhaps inspires more artistic creativity, not necessarily a desire to make more money which is the motivation of real trailers. I wonder in what sense these fake trailers can be understood as simulacra of simulacra: not only has the referent disappeared, it never even existed.

Thanks for this intriguing post, Angelina! Reading this, I was reminded of James Van Der Beek's recent role on the unfortunately named Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Appearing as a fictionalized version of himself, Van Der Beek gives a tongue-in-cheek performance that is constructed around a similar form of nostalgic 90s intertextuality. Much like the Daria trailer, Van Der Beek's performance is fun because viewers are invited to peel back layers of meaning by examining and reevaluating their initial understanding of, and experiences with, the original text (Dawson's Creek). Also, in reference to Ellen's comment, I agree that people seem quite interested in short, easily digested, "snippets of cultural pleasure." Yet, while long-form reading may be diminishing, it is interesting to note how the average running times for feature films seems to have ballooned (Wolf of Wall Street: 180 minutes, American Hustle: 138 minutes, The Dark Knight Rises: 165 minutes, etc.). Could it be that these two-hour plus running times serve as a a new marker of medium specificity in a world where such distinctions are breaking down more each day?

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.