Nobody Asked for a ‘Karen’ Horror Movie

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Did you know? That racism? Is bad? In case you didn’t, there’s a whole genre of unseasoned horror cropping up that takes the nuance of films like Get Out and waters them down to the lowest common denominator so white people can say, “Phew, I’m like, Diet Coke racist, I’m not as bad as THIS lady.”

And who is this lady? I cannot believe I’m saying this, but … she’s Karen.

If you’re like me you’re thinking three things:

  1. This HAS to be a joke. Let me look this up. Oh, holy shit, it’s not?!
  2. I love Get Out but damnit do I HATE the attempts being made to recreate its magic.
  3. They really thought that they could take the moniker for “white woman who has the police on speed-dial because Black people are peopling” and stretch it out into a full-length movie?!

I hate it here.

So, um, Karen is an upcoming film by Coke Daniels about a woman named, well, Karen, terrorizing her new Black neighbors. Unlike the nuance of films like Get Out, Karen is cartoonishly racist, maybe even more so than the actual Karens we complain about. There’s nothing micro about neighbor Karen’s aggressions. She’s installing cameras to monitor her neighbors, she’s got confederate flag memorabilia on her lotion bottle, and even the little white children in the neighborhood know that she hates Black people.

First and foremost I have to say that horror has always been a genre with something to say. The beauty of horror is that it very much has the ability to tackle our greatest fears in a morbidly creative way. “The monster is racism” is a frightening presence that horror has touched before. Get Out isn’t the first, but it is one of the best in recent years to play with social commentary in a way that makes the audience either have an uncomfortable aha moment or an uncomfortable, sympathetic nod because they’ve dealt with that level of microaggression before.

Of course, the literal twist of wanting to put white brains in Black bodies adds to the horror, and the extremely satisfying “TS-Mutha Fucking-A” ending solidifies it as a somewhat therapeutic watch because, wow, we actually WON against RACISM!

But Karen screams “this is what Get Out was trying to say, yes?” It feels like a parody, a Saturday Night Live sketch that ends with an eruption of laughter when you see the KAREN title.

But no.

It’s real.

Karen, to me, is the equivalent of putting vegetables in a perfectly ready-to-bake pan of mac and cheese. It’s completely unnecessary and adds nothing of value to the meal. There has been a rallying cry to have more Black horror that isn’t just racism BAD y’all, but time and time again we keep getting films that tell us what we already know because “that’s why you liked Get Out so much, right?”

Listen. This would be a different conversation if it were creative, after all, Get Out works because the villains aren’t, well, Karen. They aren’t calling the cops on us, they’re inviting us over, welcoming us to the family, having our backs when we encounter racism (ie: the cop that pulls Chris and Rose over), and making us feel comfortable to the point that we question if its microaggressions or just us being too paranoid.

This trailer lacks the nuance of lovingly touching my hair and telling me that it’s almost as dark as me cuz it’s summer and it’s getting a tan. Instead, this trailer chooses violence by defacing its driveway with “Blacks Rule” then calling the cops in an attempt to say that I vandalized its property.

If we’re gonna do this “racism is the real monster” story, it needs to be more subtle. We all know what the woman in this trailer looks like, but not so much the, “My white girlfriend told the cop off who tried to harass me, but she also left me alone at this all-white get together with people who are making me uncomfortable, what do I do?”

What also bothers me about this Karen trailer is that it assumes that we would willingly move to these OBVIOUSLY problematic neighborhoods as if we aren’t doing extensive research for our own self-care. As a Black queer woman, there are areas I REFUSE to move to because I KNOW they would do a number on my mental health. I desperately need creatives to make their Black characters more self-aware when they decide where they are going to LIVE, especially after the year we’ve had.

Do you think we’re just clicking on a Zillow listing without looking into the neighborhood? When we live in a time of the McCloskys?! In fact, the trailer SAYS that there is disturbing information about her and her brother. Also, you can’t tell me that this unhinged Karen wasn’t standing on her porch and watching this couple when they went to the house showing.

This is on par with the couple who gets a fantastic house on the cheap and their pet dog won’t go inside because the good boy knows it’s haunted and you can easily look up the fact that an entire family was murdered in the basement before you sign on the dotted line.

The flags?

So red!

Stop putting us in these situations!

But the kicker to all of this is how aggressive Karen is in this trailer. She is far too obvious in her hatred for Black people. Yes, Karens dislike us, but what keeps us talking about them and using a term like Karen is the fact that we can mock them—and trust me, we do, and rightfully so. Karen became a meme because as irritating as it is for these women to call the cops on us, there’s a sense of self-satisfaction when a Karen loses. Karen is mocked. Karen apologizes when she’s forced to face the repercussions of her actions. Karen … sues later?

My point is the Karen narrative is very much an “Entitled white women are ridiculous, let’s highlight this and make sure they can’t do this again” followed by, “Black people shouldn’t have to put up with this, let’s give them the care they need after having to deal with all of that.” 

It’s not this basic Racist Neighbor 101 plot where I know, without the movie even being out yet, one of these white folks is gonna drop the N-word with a hard R.

(Image: Coke Daniels)

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