As vitriol for the Karen archetype reaches a crescendo, it bears noting that the trope might die out if there was a genuine systemic change that forced white folk of means to check their privilege. To stop feeling they have the right to “speak to the manager” at the slightest inconvenience or perceived slight in customer service (all jobs thereof being thankless so how da fuck you gonna expect “service with a smile” while said workers are getting financially raped for their troubles?). To stop costing the lives of others amid a potential viable vaccine with their anti-science, anti-vax stances. Naturally, we all know this sort of shift in the culture of white privilege is impossible–that’s what makes it privilege: the right to never acknowledge it at all, perpetually blazing through red tape like it’s going out of style. To be sure, for the Karens of this world, it never will.
That the women who are the “victims” of this very branding are likely unaware of just how much they manifest the name they have come to embody only further speaks to the bubble they live in. Making up in the self-awareness they lack with self-righteousness instead. Several examples of the Karen rhetoric and sense of exemption from the rules that apply to everyone else have cropped up rather glaringly in the media lately, starting first with Lana Del Rey’s rant about not being treated with the same liberties as her “peers,” primarily women of color who were listed that included Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Kehlani, Cardi B, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello. Her series of “defenses” that followed in doubling down on the original post only further iterated a Karen mentality. When called out for such, all she could do was deny her true self with, “Thanks for the Karen comments tho. V helpful.” V helpful being a millennial Karen in denial of being a Karen’s prime word choice to seem “with it.”
Elsewhere, the recent rejuvenation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel, Little Fires Everywhere, in which Reese Witherspoon stars in the miniseries adaptation as an ultimate Karen (whether in the 90s or not) called Elena Richardson, has also re-highlighted an even worse problem about the type of woman at hand. One who is convinced she is as “PC” as they come, all the while holding her racism in check until it bubbles to the surface in the most unexpectedly venomous ways.
The “Karen in the news” phenomenon persisted earlier this week when a white lady named Amy Cooper had a tense, racially driven run-in with a man who shared her last name in Central Park. Bird-watching Christian Cooper approached her when he saw that she had her dog off a leash in the Ramble, at which point Karen freaked the fuck out and called the police to tell them there was “an African American man threatening my life.” On a side note, being racist while trying to be politically correct in classifying him as “African American” is peak Karen moves (again, as Elena Richardson additionally showcased).
Naturally, this Karen worked somewhere as banal as an asset management company, which put her “on leave” after the incident, proving that you can’t do shit in your personal life when you work for a corporation. And then her dog got taken away too (though maybe the shelter will give it back at some point). Yet despite these comeuppances, one can’t help but think that Karen is still going to cling to her right to be affronted by the mere presence of a black man in an isolated area. It is, simply, her Karen’s right.
And even in the face of viral incidents like these, Karen won’t die, though in the future her name might be replaced with a new generation’s more popular name, like Emma or Olivia. Or maybe the gender neutral X Æ A-Xii.