This chapter locates the value in Obstruction’s most toxic and seemingly irredeemable blockage, the cynicism whose pervasiveness in television and regularity in academe have strong, telling correspondences. Looking to television, then, proves useful for the scholar who wishes not to get mired in cynicism but to mobilize its likely experience more nimbly and complexly. Indeed, understanding the complexity of not “mere” cynicism requires first naming and conceptualizing its three interrelated parts: the accommodational cynicism that risks pliability to neoliberal capitalism; the critical cynicism that would censure such accommodations, even as they may be unavoidable; and the renovated Cynicism (the capital C denoting Greek philosophical antecedents) that takes up the parrēsia and theatricality attributed to Diogenes of Sinope and reimagines them for the project of a contemporary, global cosmopolitanism. The animated television series Daria, made on the limited cel model, provides a multilayered pedagogy for the ways that tripartite cynicism can strive to achieve radically incremental gains—and thus how it can be embraced by the scholar who accepts working within the university yet who resists its corporatized norms.
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