DR has been thoughtful enough to prepare an “explainer” video on the Karen meme.
I’d intended to give it a pretty thorough going-over on Friday, then RBG died and threw the universe off its axis again. (And also, it’s a DR explainer about a stupid American meme. If you don’t strike in the heat of the moment, interest tapers off pretty quickly.)
Let me just say this: DR has, once again, apparently missed the point.
What they’re right about:
Karens are entitled.
Karens know the rules, and their rights, and aren’t putting up with any of your bullshit.
Karens will get in your face.
Karens want to speak to a manager.
Karens will call the cops.
Karens want to know if your parents know what you’re up to.
Karens disapprove of you.
But as usual, when prowling the internet for examples of Americans Behaving Badly, DR appears to have gone after the usual suspects.
In their search for the source of the meme, they note that beyond their haircuts and lousy treatment of service personnel, they’re known for being flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, and spreaders of fake news.
This video is the first time I’ve heard any of those characteristics attributed to Karens. Ever. On any medium.
We’re then told that what really pushed the Karen meme over the top were the Corona virus and BLM.
We’re shown a Karen saying she won’t wear a mask for the same reason she won’t wear underwear (“things need to breathe”), then we’re told that Karens have become a symbol of racism and corona ignorance.
No, they haven’t. That’s not what it’s about. That’s wrong.
We’re told, and I’m quoting the subtitles verbatim, “Corona-Karen går ikke med mundbind eller respekterer karentæne.” Which is also wrong: some Karens get angry at other people for not wearing masks and not respecting quarantines. (Karens get angry. No anger, no Karen.)
We’re then told (ominously) that with BLM, another kind of Karen showed up. Maybe we’ve heard of “Central Park Karen?” We’re shown the (now notorious) footage of the white woman in Central Park threatening to call the police and tell them an African-American man is threatening her. After which we’re immediately shown footage of another women with a confederate flag, and another waving an American flag, both of them being obnoxious, and we’re told flatly that women who go against the BLM movement are called Karens.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: some women who go against the BLM movement are indeed called Karens. But so are a lot of women who go with the Marxist BLM movement. It’s not whether they’re for or against BLM or anything else that makes them a Karen. It’s not a positional thing, it’s an attitudinal thing.
Unlike almost everything else in the universe right now, the Karen phenomenon knows no left-right divide. There are progressive Karens and conservative Karens, communist Karens and libertarian Karens. The universality doesn’t end with politics: there are Karens of every make and model. Every color and creed.
They may get in your face for wearing a mask, or they may get in your face for not wearing a mask.
They may insist on their right to ignore government mandates, or they may attack you for ignoring government mandates.
They may get in your face because you’re not supportive enough of this or that movement; or they may get in your face for supporting it.
There are black Karens, white Karens, tall Karens, short Karens, rich Karens, poor Karens, intellectual Karens, and idiot Karens.
And they all want to speak to your manager.
But DR presents the whole thing through their own black-and-white worldview: Karens aren’t just pissy middle-aged white women with helmet hair who treat cashiers and clerks like something stuck to the bottom of their sensible shoes. They’re bad because they’re anti-mask, and anti-quarantine, and anti-BLM. Also, they’re racists.
The video never comes out and says it, but there’s a clear subtext that Karens are a right wing phenomenon. (But only, it must be understood, by DR’s grotesquely mistaken understanding of the American right.)
That’s why the inclusion of the “Central Park Karen” is interesting. Her name is Amy Cooper. She is indeed universally regarded as a Karen, and her behavior certainly appeared to have been racist. She also turned out to have a long history of voting for and contributing to Democratic candidates and causes.
Had DR known that, I’m not sure they would have included her in their montage.
To illustrate that the Karen meme isn’t restricted to one side of the Corona divide, here’s Paul Joseph Watson’s take on Karens from way back in May:
So DR missed the boat. Again. Big deal: it’s DR going off about an American thing, of course they missed the boat.
But once again, Danish viewers are less informed after watching a DR video than they were beforehand. To paraphrase Denzel Washington paraphrasing someone else:
“If you don’t follow the media, you’re uninformed. If you do follow the media, you’re misinformed.”