This Regina restaurant is celebrating 'Karen'
REGINA -- A local restaurant is celebrating people named Karen this week.
If your name is Karen, you are eligible for a 20 percent discount at Birmingham’s Vodka and Ale house in Regina or Saskatoon until Sunday Aug. 23.
The idea came from a popular internet meme, assigning the name “Karen” to middle-class white women who act entitled in public. Videos of “Karens” have been posted en mass in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Its a really neat plan to to appreciate Karens across Saskatchewan for one week of the year, and it's going to be it's our first annual so we're going to be doing it every year, going forward, same week,” Chad Zipchian, owner of Birmingham’s Vodka and Ale House said. “We've had quite a few Karen's coming in and taking advantage of the appreciation week and we couldn't be more happy.”
A woman named Karen who lives in Regina said she has noticed a change since the rise of the Karen meme.
“Actually yesterday when I was shopping, and I had to say my name to the sales clerk. She was like, ‘oh, Karen’ and I said ‘Yeah, I know’ she just kind of laughed,” said Rilling. “It's just something that's happening in the world right now and they're calling out people who maybe kind of need to be called out and need to, you know, check themselves.”
A social media expert has some ideas of where the popular meme originated.
“Some people trace the roots back to the scene in ‘Goodfellas’ with Ray Liota. There's even some talk about it being from a scene in the movie ‘Mean Girls,’” Alec Couros, social media expert from the University of Regina, said.
“Typically what we see with the Karen phenomena is someone being called out for perhaps not following the rules or being perhaps abusive to managers or to store employees, trying to be able to assert themselves to get what they want,” he said.
Couros recognizes the appeal in Karen friendly promotions.
“I feel a bit sorry for those who are the unfortunate Karen's who display none of the characteristics of the medium Karen, you certainly can. You certainly get caught up in all of this,” he said.
With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Karen memes expanded from the relatively harmless, “I want to speak to the manager” complaints, to more serious association with middle-aged white women unjustly calling the police, often regarding people of colour.
“It’s about White economically privileged women being discriminatory, and in some instances, I would say, almost violent in their assertion of their right to take up space,” Claire Carter, Women’s and Gender Studies professor at the University of Regina, said.
Carter sees the lighter side of the Karen stereotype, but cautions against brushing it off as the poor behaviour of a few individuals.
“There's probably also a lack of White women acknowledging the ways that they've been able to move into more status or privileged positions. Despite the fact that there's still lots of gender discrimination of course and sexism, but there's lots of privilege and the way that that women are using that power against other groups,” Carter said.
Couros also sees potential pitfalls in the Karen phenomenon.
“It’s certainly part unethical. Certainly the part of capturing these on film and then of course sharing them broadly on social media but at the same time it does expose a dark part of many of us are dark part of society,” he said. “As we look at ourselves through the lens of someone else that we're able to see that, you know, there are some things that we perhaps need to change, and certainly a recognition of our privilege and the way that we treat one another is, is one of those things.”