If there’s one name that probably won’t make the most popular baby names list next year, it’s Karen. In 2020, Karen has become a kind of catch-all term for the type of (mostly) white women who proudly wield their entitlement and privilege wherever they go. Classic Karen behaviors include saying “All Lives Matter,” even after the purpose of Black Lives Matter has been explained to them 100 times, and refusing to wear a mask because of like, freedom.
Obviously, not every actual Karen displays the behaviors of a ~Karen~, and it might make you feel a certain way if your name was suddenly turned into an insult. But while most of us can recognize that a mild annoyance is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things if you’re a grown-ass adult, Domino’s Australia and New Zealand missed the memo. They came up with a promotional idea to benefit non-entitled Karens, and let’s just say it didn’t go as intended.
CALLING ALL (MASK WEARING, LAW ABIDING) KARENS! 😷🚨It’s a tough time to be a Karen. Karen the nurse, Karen the…
Posted by Domino's Australia on Monday, July 27, 2020
In the post, they say, “it’s a tough time to be a Karen,” and invite all “mask wearing, law abiding Karens” to fill out a form for a chance of getting some free pizzas. They say that “a vocal minority who believe rules and laws don’t apply to them” have ruined the name Karen for everyone else, but that “Karen the nurse, Karen the teacher, Karen the mum, Karen the neighbour, Karen the mask wearer” are “all in this together.”
Speaking about the new promotion, Domino’s regional chief marketing officer Allan Collins said, “What used to be a light-hearted meme has become quite the insult to anyone actually named Karen. Well, today we’re taking the name Karen back. At Domino’s, we’re all about bringing people together and we want to celebrate all the great Karens out there by shouting them a free pizza!”
But what the Domino’s team thought was a cute idea to get some press didn’t go over so well in the real world. While the negative qualities of a Karen certainly don’t apply to every single person with that name, people were quick to point out on Twitter that many of the people who feel targeted by this are probably… privileged white women. And even if they aren’t, having your name turned into a meme doesn’t even come close to comparing to the systemic racism and oppression experienced by Black people and other marginalized groups.
most of the time “Karens” are entitled privileged white women. If a few people actually called Karen can’t handle the meme of it they should try handling 400 years of oppression. They should try watching their people killed by police officers solely for their skin.
— ariel reyes (@aramreyess) July 29, 2020
And while giving out free pizzas to “nice Karens” is a nice thing to do, I guess, why not channel those resources to people who actually need them? Just spitballing here: Give pizzas to essential workers who don’t even make a living wage while keeping our society running through a pandemic, or give pizzas to people risking their lives to protest. When one commenter asked Domino’s NZ if they would also be giving pizzas to people in poverty, their response was comically terrible.
Sorry, who approved this comment?! There are millions of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but Domino’s has chosen to direct their resources to Karens. Cool. As a company with an estimated valuation of nearly $20 billion, they could probably afford to do a little of both. The negative reaction to the campaign was so strong that Domino’s New Zealand issued an apology just a day after the initial post. They said that their post “lacked important context,” and that their “intention was one of inclusivity only,” but admitted, “we are always listening and learning and when we get it wrong, we fix it.”
We are sorry. Throughout COVID-19 we’ve tried to bring a smile to customers faces, with our pizza and our social…
Posted by Domino's New Zealand on Tuesday, July 28, 2020
But at least Domino’s New Zealand took down their post. At the time of publication, the Karen giveaway post is still live on the Domino’s Australia Facebook page, and the entry form for the giveaway can still be accessed. I guess the contest was only offensive for people in New Zealand?
When it comes down to it, “Karen” seems like a funny meme concept, but it stands for something way deeper than that. When “Park Karens” call the cops on innocent Black men, they are putting their lives at risk. When Trader Joe’s Karens throw fits about wearing masks in public, they are willfully enabling the spread of a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, disproportionately Black and Brown people. If your name is Karen and none of this stuff applies to you, that’s unfortunate, but there are much bigger fish to fry right now.
Images: Scott Kenneth Brodie / Shutterstock.com; Domino’s Australia, Domino’s New Zealand / Facebook; aramreyess / Twitter