Social media sites like YouTube can be a breeding ground for online drama. Videos posted here often garner much attention and have real-world repercussions for their subjects.
But sometimes, a drama may not serve its intended purpose and instead contribute to a platform’s underlying culture of entitlement.
1. The Airplane Karen
Karen is often used to denote an arrogant and ignorant white woman. It has become popular on social media platforms and in memes to depict middle-aged white women who think they have the right to make their own decisions, whether calling the manager when they’re unsatisfied or making racist comments.
Karen is a classic sexist stereotype with a detailed history. Her actions and words stem from various factors, including age, privilege, powerlessness, and social status. At the same time, Karen may often appear on social media or in films for its apparent flaws; she cannot ignore how she acts out and causes harm to others due to her racism.
The Karen stereotype has existed for years, even as far back as the 1980s. However, it gained currency in the 2000s as an insulting term to describe women who demand their rights more than necessary. While often used to mock middle-aged women, this term can also refer to all age groups with an attitude similar to its maker: entitlement.
Karens have long been associated with sexist stereotypes and racism, as well as abuse of power. In some instances, they can even be physically violent towards black people.
On the other hand, they can be highly passive-aggressive. For instance, they might call the cops when they see a black kid playing on the street and make up stories to get them arrested.
In recent years, Karen has become a ubiquitous online phrase, though its origins remain unclear. It’s used to disparage white women who believe they deserve their way and has been used to deride everyone from suburban moms who wish for the pandemic to grocery store owners who refuse to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
2. The Car Lot Karen
If you’re on YouTube, chances are you’ve seen some videos featuring Karens. These entitled white women have no issue shouting at others or creating a scene when they don’t get their way.
Karens are not simply stereotypical White women; they can also be far more racially charged and racist than one might suspect. Karens often see themselves as the policewomen of human behavior.
The Car Lot Karen
An entitled and rude Karen gets shamed in a parking lot. But, unfortunately, this kind of Karen is one that many men enjoy having around.
Karens often interrupt conversations with other women to launch a full-on rant about parking. They become so enraged that they never give the other person a chance to respond or ask questions.
Her belief that she’s being mistreated makes Karen particularly obnoxious. She yells at the car park manager or harasses police officers when she feels aggrieved.
But she cannot manage the situation effectively – she explodes and starts screaming and yelling in public. It seems as if she thrives off public displays of irritation but cannot maintain her composure.
Karens like this tends to hang around places with high foot traffic, such as malls or parking lots. This behavior expresses her incapacity to control her actions and feelings of powerlessness.
Karen has been drawing much attention lately as the embodiment of everything wrong with our world today – entitled, obnoxious, and racist. But she doesn’t have to be!
3. The Bar Karen
Karen is a popular internet meme known for her arrogant and demanding behavior. She wears the stereotypical white woman’s haircut and activewear outfit and always demands to speak with the manager.
Her behavior often comes across as racist and abusive, making her a nuisance in public spaces. But, unfortunately, the anger she unleashes is usually unjustified; rather, it stems from her privileges and repression of anger.
She has a narcissistic personality. Therefore, status markers are important to her because they keep her visible within the upper echelons of her group, which she values more than anything else.
But she also resents those who don’t understand her, feeling left out and wanting to be included. So she goes to great lengths to achieve success for herself.
If you’ve ever watched shows like Ozark or How I Met Your Mother, chances are you’ve encountered, Karen. Unfortunately, these characters tend to be middle class with excessive senses of self-importance.
These traits make them more likely to abuse their privileges, particularly in front of people of color. For example, they might throw a tantrum in public to get what they want and aren’t afraid to use their power to shame or humiliate those who don’t meet their expectations.
For decades, Karen has been denigrated by feminists and activists, but its recent surge in social media videos has brought it to public awareness. Unfortunately, some on the internet have also tarnished the name with negative connotations; some even claim it to be a misogynistic slur – an assertion that ignores that Karen is simply one of many racial terms used to denote women who abuse their privilege.
4. The Shopping Mall Karen
Abigail Elphick, photographed as a complete brat at Victoria’s Secret lingerie store, has been dubbed the “Victoria’s Secret Karen.” When another shopper accuses her of trying to strike her, Abigail collapses to the floor in fits of laughter.
In a series of YouTube videos posted online, black shopper Ljeoma Ukenta captures a woman approaching her with her hand raised, then reverses course once she realizes she is being filmed. The woman then throws an intense tantrum and throws away her clothes.
As the video progresses, a woman whose identity has yet to be released begins screaming and wailing as several people stand and watch. She even screeches at Ukenta before trying to take her phone from her.
Recently, the Karen term has grown increasingly popular and can be applied to women who behave overly assertively. This may include making unreasonable demands and becoming angry if not met, looking down on other customers in service positions, or intimidating service staff or police.
Google Trends reported that “Karen” skyrocketed in popularity on May 25, 2020, when a black man asked a white woman walking her dog through Central Park if she would mind having her pup leashed.
Social media platforms have seen several Karen videos go viral. These usually depict middle-aged white women with pixie cuts and blonde streaks who exhibit extreme anger when they don’t get their way.
Karen uses the racist term Miss Ann, coined by black people during the Antebellum period, to disparage white people who participated in racism. Like Miss Ann, Karen feels emboldened by a sense of superiority and uses racial hierarchy and patriarchy for her gain.