Night of the Living Karens

September 30, 2020
Tim Lien

"Night of the Living Karens"

I knew that Karen had reached the point of cultural saturation when my 7-year-old bopped into my view with a LEGO mini-figure <see above>, “Look Dad! A Karen! Anderson made it! What’s a Karen?” I laughed. It did look like a Karen.

With Halloween at half-mast for 2020, the-Most-Terrifying-Karen-Mask is being resold at prices pushing $400. You don’t have to hunt very long to find Karen news aggregator sites, complete with fresh daily clips. The same goes for Twitter or Instagram accounts.

The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph (John) Merrick, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, recently have been relieved that a bigger Monster has been uncovered. They, too, shake their heads at Karen videos. Oh, Karen.

We know the brief history. The genesis of the term was meant to expose white, racist behavior. As with jazz and rock & roll, it was quickly stolen and refashioned into something else. Men began using Karen as misogynistic code for a middle-aged woman who annoyed them. And in 2020, Karen (& Kevin!) have become cumulative scapegoats for the weaponization of race, selfishness, entitlement, and over-reaching policing of what can only be characterized as none-of-your-d@mn-business. Also: exuberant pettiness, exhausting privilege, mismatched anger, and explosive behavior. It has become an imprecise catch-all moniker for disgust, disdain. Smh. Oh, Karen. Oh, Kevin.

There is an ever-growing taxonomy and classification of Karen, too. Walmart Karen. Clubhouse Karen. HOA Karen. Retail Karen. Trader Joe’s Karen. Parking Lot Karen.

To be clear, the phone vids, tiktoks, ‘gram reels, go down nicely. Neat, no chaser. Feels good. We are privately tickled with the standing on the counter, when the fuse has clearly reached the point of no return. The merchandise is being mauled from the shelves. Mock horror. Giggle. Click. Share. Karens be karening. Karen wilding, yo. Giggle. She did not just do that. Yep, yep she did. Giggle. Idiot. Oh, Karen.

There is an advantage here in our taxonomy. We never place ourselves in the genus of Karenis scortillum. We are guaranteed superiority. Look at her; I have no resemblance to her. She is crazy; I would never do that. Every new instance confirms it. Not me. Nope. Not a Karen. Oh, Karen.

It is delicious and tempting, this entertaining perch atop a landfill of Karens. There is tantalizing appeal in finding moral high ground here. I will say a commemorative prayer:God, thank you that I am not one prone to tantrums. Thank you that I have enough sense not to ask for the manager. Thank you that I patiently wait in queues. Thank you that I suffer slights with dignity, class, and long-suffering. Thank you, O God, for my diligent observance of civil discourse. Thank you for allowing me to wear my mask. Thank you God, that I am not a Karen.

Jesus once delivered a very public story-time: (Luke 18)

He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


If we cannot place ourselves in the taxonomy of Karenis scortillum, then we necessarily are excluded from the fellowship of sinners. And strangely, as fast as we can say Oh, Karen, we become worse than her.

I will amend my prayer:
Thank you God, that my customer representative interactions (especially on the phone) have not been recorded and disseminated for critical review. Thank you for your mercy and kindness, to me, a Phone Call Kevin. Amen.

2020 The Way - SGV