Trailer for Karen Generates Sea of Unfavorable Reactions

It stars Taryn Manning in the title role
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2021 7:41 AM CDT

All of the Karen things Karens do are wrapped up into a single Karen in Karen. That's a BET original horror movie without a release date, directed by Coke Daniels and starring Orange Is the New Black actor Taryn Manning in the title role. The trailer, now trending, shows Manning's Karen White telling a table of Black people at a restaurant to quiet down or she'll get the manager, calling the cops on apparently innocent Black teens, and installing security cameras as a Black couple (Cory Hardrict and Jasmine Burke) move into her neighborhood. Karen topples their trash can, at which point a kid makes the obvious more obvious, telling Burke's character, "She doesn't like Black people." The trailer suggests the drama escalates from there. Reactions:

  • It's "so heavy-handed and offensively bad that I'm unsure if it's supposed to be an actual film or a satire so entrenched in irony that it's unrecognizable as actual satire," writes Justin Kirkland at Esquire. "When there's a real-life epidemic of literal white women calling the cops on Black people, and endangering their livelihoods, making a horror film about it with nary a shred of nuance is probably not the way to go."
  • It "defies all logic," writes Savannah Walsh at Vanity Fair, noting Jordan Peele's Get Out "began trending as the Twitterverse pointed out that the complexity in Peele's horror satire was nowhere to be found in the Karen trailer." She describes "Karen's apparently complete lack of nuance when it comes to depicting racism and white privilege" and notes "the irony in Manning's casting, considering her past of seemingly defending Donald Trump and repeating rhetoric from the QAnon conspiracy movement."

  • "When not done right, racial horror … can just be offensive, reducing very real traumas and ongoing white supremacist violence to tropes and shock factor, and often catering to white ignorance," Kylie Cheung writes at Salon, suggesting this is the case with Karen. The film appears to be "simply portraying more white violence for the sake of shock and outrage." But as none of the events shown will shock Black audiences and audiences of color, it's "clear who the target audience is."
  • Twitter users weren't sure whether this was an actual movie or a Saturday Night Live sketch. "What Jordan Peele 'get out' snl skit nonsense is this??" wrote one user, per the Independent. "No one asked for a movie about a murderous Karen." Another wrote, "Hollywood is doomed." Still, another user is already considering sequels. "I hope this turns into a 12-movie series," they wrote. "Karen in Space, Karen Goes to Hell, Karen in Manhattan, Karen: H20."
(More movie trailer stories.)

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