WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — One man is taking advantage of an interesting trend this year by charging up to $180 for what he's calling "Karen" masks, just in time for Halloween.
The term "Karen" has become synonymous in recent years for an over-entitled person, seen as using that air of superiority to monitor others while out in public. Sometimes incidents are seen as having racist overtones, or being blatantly racist while involving law enforcement in seemingly mundane or benign matters to exaggerate situations as a show of force.
Los Angeles-based artist Jason Adcock is selling some frightening latex masks with clearly exaggerated features on his Etsy account and promoting them on his social media.
In one Instagram post Adcock writes, "2020 is the year of the KAREN! Scare all ur friends with ur big hair and narrow mind."
Adcock says he works in retail and has encountered many people he describes as a "Karen," saying that the retail environment is their "natural habitat," he joked.
The features of the masks, and the stereotypical characteristics they are trying to convey, are definitely overstated in typical Halloween fashion.
The feedback has been interesting. Adcock said, "The response is 50/50, I have had a good amount of hate and even a death threat, but I feel the term 'Karen' is part of pop culture now."
The idea of the term "Karen" is seen as taking everything wrong with an over-entitled individual and personifying it. Urban Dictionary describes the stereotype as having what is called a "crown bowl haircut," and says that a "Karen" possibly drives a large SUV, and is a sort of offshoot of a previously popular stereotype called the "Soccer Mom."
Even with the mixed reaction, Adcock is finding his masks are in high demand. Though, he says this is a limited run, and there will be a four-week waiting period for orders as they are custom made. Once the masks are sold out, Adcock does not plan on making more he says.
The masks are made of latex and have styled hair, lashes and are painted by hand according to Adcock's Etsy page.
The term "Karen" has often been seen in the news describing those who seem to feel above certain norms.
In recent months, as the U.S. continues to grapple with mitigating the coronavirus spread during the pandemic, some people seen in stores refusing to wear a mask have been referred to as a "Karen" in reports.
Other people labeled as a "Karen" seem to use threats of law enforcement intervention as a show of power.
One infamous incident on May 25 involved Amy Cooper who accused a Black man of threatening her in Central Park. She was caught on video calling the police on him as she fabricated the accusations. The story made national headlines and Cooper faced criminal charges for her actions.
Cooper was later described as "the Queen of Karens" in the New York Times.
Earlier this year, San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the "CAREN Act," otherwise known as the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, as a nod to the now popular term "Karen."
The bill focuses on making false reports to police. While that is already a crime in San Francisco, the "CAREN Act" would amend police code making it against the law to falsify a report based on a person's race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Another bill introduced by California Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland would add racially-motivated 911 calls into the Hate Crime Statute. It would also provide a civil remedy for people harmed by discriminatory 911 calls.