The Karen meme has developed on the Internet over the years through various viral events, which have been constantly taken up anew by the net culture and assigned to the name Karen. In 2020, the Karen meme experienced the peak of its popularity in connection with the corona measures and the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA. Primarily, the name “Karen” stands for a personality that has been awarded the following characteristics by the network and meme culture:
Karen is middle-aged. One of the most common names of this age group.
She is female and very thin-skinned (1)
She is privileged (By skin color and middle class)
She wears a “cheeky but practical” bob hairstyle (2,3)
Quarrelsome and will not be dissuaded from your project
The exact origin of the Karen memes cannot be determined exactly. Rather, various events have shaped the name Karen over the years and thus gradually shaped the profile of the Karen meme. The main events are chronological:
Origins in films
A common opinion is that the origin of the negative connotation of the name Karen in the 2004 film Mean Girls has its origin through the phrase “Oh my God, Karen, you can’t just ask someone why they’re white”. Others, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the popularity of the name goes back to the year 1989 on a scene of the movie Goodfellas. However, a connection between the films and the meme development cannot be seen.
“Karen” is a derisive name for ignorant, annoying, impudent and unbearable middle-aged women. A Karen has an exaggerated attitude of entitlement and believes that she is entitled to certain things and that she is allowed to say what she wants. This leads to the fact that she engages others in discussions and demands any rights to get her will.
In memes, “Karen” is always the opponent who annoys others with her kind.
The name “Karen” stands for stereotypical behavior and appearance of certain women. This is comparable to ”Kevin“ or ”Chad”. (The name ”Kevin” in Germany is stereotypically for an uneducated stupid person. A well-trained man is stereotypically referred to as ”Chad”, who has a lot of success with women.)
Typical Karen behavior
A Karen wants to talk to the manager if something doesn’t suit her or she wants to complain about employees.
A Karen treats staff and waiters condescendingly and badly.
A Karen demands that employees be fired.
A Karen has an exaggerated attitude of entitlement and believes that she is entitled to certain things.
A Karen believes that she is always right. (Humility is foreign to her.)
A Karen demands an extra sausage.
A Karen complains when something is hard or exhausting.
If Karen doesn’t understand something or fails at something, it’s always the others’ fault.
A Karen starts arguing about the smallest disagreements.
A Karen takes pretty much way too seriously!
Karen is interested in conspiracy theories, the anti-vaccination movement and multi-level marketing. Karen believes that Germany is not a sovereign state.
A Karen brings her children to events or parties where children are forbidden or unwanted.
Karen posts motivational sayings in the social pictures.
At a party, Karen plays with her phone all the time.
Karen (likes to) spoil the fun for others.
Karen hamsters toilet paper and noodles.
A Karen makes fun of others.
A Karen believes that in a dispute, the louder person is right.
A Karen devalues better arguments for herself by saying that she does not believe in it or that she is not convinced.
A Karen has no decency.