Jason Adcock, 34, says he’s been overwhelmed with orders for a tongue-in-cheek mask design inspired by “Karen,” the now-infamous 2020 nickname for entitled white women who complain about trivial or non-existent problems.
He’s also been flooded with nasty comments and requests to speak to his manager, after seemingly triggering an army of male and female “Karens” on the internet.
Adcock says he designed the handmade masks based on a torrent of 2020 news stories about “Karens” rejecting coronavirus safety measures, threatening protesters and calling police on people of colour.
“I was starting on this year’s Halloween projects and kept seeing ‘Karens’ pop up in my news feed and thought, ‘Damn this is the real monster of 2020,'” Adcock told Business Insider.
Each mask is hand-painted latex rubber attached to a blond bob wig — the signature “Karen” haircut, according to various memes. The masks show a caricatured woman’s face in mid-shout.
“2020 is the year of the KAREN!” Adcock wrote in an Instagram post about the mask. “Scare all ur friends with ur big hair and narrow mind.”
Adcock has also created a pustule-covered version of the mask, which he has dubbed “KAREN-19” after those who reject coronavirus masks.
“She thought she was slick calling you all sheep and look what happened,” he joked on Instagram.
The Los Angeles-based artist says he has a dark sense of humour and plenty of experience with “Karens” thanks to his career in retail.
“I’ve kind of seen Karens in the wild my whole life, and I just thought it would be kind of a funny thing to make for Halloween,” Adcock told Good Morning America in a recent interview. “I didn’t think it would take off.”
He posted the first designs on Facebook and received a flood of purchase requests last month. Adcock launched an Etsy store to try to manage all the orders, but he had to stop accepting new purchases on Tuesday because he couldn’t keep up. The US$180 mask is now sold out.
Adcock says he’s running a one-man operation and it takes a few weeks to make the masks, so he’s hit pause on the orders until he can catch up.
Karen has become a pejorative slang term for “an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviours,” according to the newly enshrined definition on Dictionary.com.
The term has also been applied to the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at anti-racism protesters outside their home, and to a cosmetics CEO who called police on a man for writing “Black Lives Matter” on his own wall.
Canada saw its own “Karen” incident earlier this week when a woman went on a viral rant about COVID-19 at a Fabricland in Calgary.
Adcock says the “Karen” label shouldn’t be reserved for privileged white women, despite that popular understanding.
“‘Karen’ is transcendent of all gender and size,” he told Good Morning America. “She is just a modern-day tyrant. Anybody evil can be a Karen.”
He also offered some advice for those who might feel offended by the mask.
“Just take it for what it is: a funny Halloween mask,” he said.
“I’m not here to ruin anybody’s day. I’m just trying to make people laugh.”