This weekend, #KarensGoneWild trended, and our feeds were filled with graphic videos of white women being horrifyingly racist.

Many of these videos are disturbing, but they're also important opportunities for white America to confront the everyday racism that too often gets pushed under the rug, hidden away by white femininity and its presumption of innocence.

UPDATE: The latest Karen to flood our feeds is from a California Trader Joe's, where she was "harassed" for not wearing a mask on the first day of the store's re-opening.

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If You Think "Karen" Is a Slur, Then You're Definitely a Karen

A brief history of "Karens" and how to spot them at your local Women's March.

Whether you know someone actually named Karen or not, there's a high possibility that you've met a "Karen."

Not all "Karens" are named Karen, and not everyone named Karen is a "Karen"—but "Karens" are constantly walking (and tweeting) among us. Not too far removed from the "can I speak to your manager?" meme before it, "Karen" has become a catch-all name for the type of white woman with whom we've unfortunately grown all-too familiar. "Karens" live with the idea that their womanhood exonerates them from white privilege, and their day-to-day shenanigans prove they truly don't know how to read the room.

If you're so lucky as to not have dealt with a Karen in real life, then you've probably read about them in stories online. The woman in Oakland who called the police on a black family for barbecuing by the lake? She's a Karen. That time "gun girl" Kaitlyn Bennett said "we don't live in a racist society"? She was being especially Karen-like. Just this week, when Alyssa Milano—starter of the #MeToo movement—said she was continuing to endorse Joe Biden, without acknowledging the sexual assault allegations against him? Peak Karen behavior.

But the most Karen of all Karens is writer Julie Bindel, who tweeted some absolute insanity over the weekend: "Does anyone else think the 'Karen' slur is woman hating and based on class prejudice?" Ah, yes—good ol' class prejudice against upper-middle-class white folks. What could be more nefarious?

As with a lot of slang that's been adopted by the masses over the past decade, this usage of "Karen" was first coined by black people. It's since become canonized in reference to women like Bindel, who are so caught up in their narrow, self-centered view of feminism that they fail to acknowledge their glaring white privilege.

Most of all, Karens don't want to be left out of anything—especially oppression. They will latch onto any inconvenience that gives them the tiniest semblance of systematic oppression, arguing that "Karen" generalizes a specific collection of traits—white, middle-aged, upper-middle-class—as if those aren't the exact traits most frequently found in men of power. What makes Karens so dangerous is that they claim to be feminists but only act on it when that feminism directly benefits them; their racism, homophobia, and transphobia aren't always explicit, but their actions lack all the nuance of intersectionality.

Worst of all, Bindel's tweet seems to liken "Karen" with racial slurs, as if "the K-word" could ever come close to approximating the malicious history of actual derogatory words (plus, FYI, there already is another "k-word").

In summary: Don't be a Karen. "Karen" isn't a slur. If you're innocent and your name just so happens to be Karen, I'm so terribly sorry.


Are Memes the Key to a Revolution?

Memes can elect presidents and spark mass revolts. Why shouldn't they determine the fate of the world?

Most of us know that there's something up with Washington and the military-industrial complex that's running our world, which together are ignoring the very real threat of impending disaster due to the amount of carbon we're belching into the atmosphere.

The U.S. military is the number one burner of carbon in the world, after all.

Yet, though there have been significant pockets of protest, in general, activism has not taken off on the level required to spark change on the necessary scale. Part of this could be because there's just so much to protest, as every single day seems to bring another racist attack, another horrific report from the border, another apocalyptic headline. With the 24/7 news cycle constantly screaming or beeping out informational toxic waste, it's become too much information to bear.

Fortunately, memes have leapt in to provide an outlet for existential despair, suicidal ideation, hate, and other feelings too dark to express in the day-lit realm of seriousness. If reality is like the sun, impossible to look at straight-on, then memes have become like sunglasses for certain subsects of the online sphere—ways to comprehend events or express views without fully acknowledging their implications. This is visible in the rise of memes about mental illness and of course, politics.

The Area 51 Raid Could Be a Blueprint for a Revolt

In recent times, memes—or rather, a single meme, which blossomed into a Facebook group and spawned posts and tweets—have successfully persuaded one million people to RSVP that they are "going" to invade Area 51, the U.S. military base that has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. This is a clear example of how quick and effective memes are at mass mobilization.

Soon enough, people began to understand the implications of this spontaneous unification. Critics began questioning why people were rallying around an impossible and pointless Area 51 attack (sorry—I wish it were possible as much as the next guy, believe me) instead of a raid on, say, the ICE prisons at the border where people are actively dying in U.S. custody.

The truth is, though, it's becoming clear that serious, genuine attempts at changing the world have difficulty catching on in today's nihilistic, fragmented society. Fifty years after the summer of '69, hope doesn't hold the sway it used to; we don't believe that anything like 'give peace a chance' will work. We've watched too many optimists fail. We've seen too many cult leaders carted off to prison, too many men we thought were great exposed for who they really are.

We've seen the explosive production that defined the 20th century launch globalization in the 21st century, which has resulted in mass ecological crisis and waves of displacement that we know will only worsen as the earth warms. We've been told to turn off our lights as carbon companies churn out more pollution every year.

We've seen lies infiltrate our television screens from both sides of the political spectrum. We've watched pundits say the world will end in ten years because of climate change, then we've switched to FOX to see other pundits saying that climate change is a conspiracy.

Really, there's not much else to do except fall into complete depression and/or anxiety, or laugh it off. Perhaps merely incidentally, memes help us to do the latter, allowing us to alchemize those two polarized reactions into something unified, if only in its distortedness.

Memes as Tools of Social Change—Or Alt-Right Solidarity

After all, for all their flaws, memes do something vital for any healthy social movement, something that few digital users would care to admit. Memes foster community, presenting an alternative to the lonely echo chamber of the social media sphere and the capitalist system at large, which thrives on competition and the cult of the individual.

There is revolutionary potential in this resilient unification. Imagine, for example, if someone could shape climate change into a contagious meme. Imagine if "storm the Exxon Mobil factory" could collect the number of comments and RSVPs that this event has. Could it be that memes are the best hope for humanity?

Memes are perfect revolutionary devices because they allow us to connect and unify in the most anonymous of senses, permitting secret or radical thoughts to catch on like wildfire. Sometimes, this can have horrible consequences. Being implicitly neutral, memes are just as useful at fostering the rise of the alt-right and electing Trump as they could be in unifying protestors against climate change, or around the next Democratic presidential candidate.

But while memes can fuel hate, they can also fuel—to quote presidential candidate and meme Marianne Williamson—love. Perhaps the rise of memes says something about love; perhaps it proves that while we (as Gen-Z and millennials, to make a sweeping generalization) can't tolerate the intimacy of real, genuine bonds anymore—while ideas like "love will save us" feel antithetical—we can tolerate intimacy through the synthetic, chemical bonding that occurs through internet friendships, which allow us to remove ourselves from the equation, to strip away our public personas and instead to distill ourselves to something fluid, changeable at will.

In that anonymity, we feel the freedom to be ourselves, outside of the cage of the 'self' we perform in the real world. We can admit our flawed natures and fears; we can admit that we are "in shambles," while still preserving a self-effacing detachment. Always, there's the oddly comforting possibility that it's all a joke.

Needless to say, we need some new climate change memes

If Revolution Were a Meme

More and more, memes are becoming one of the primary ways to comprehend the truth of ourselves and our world, a truth so submerged in layers of complexity and misinformation that sometimes it only feels possible to discuss it in the liminal space of half-seriousness, half-absurdity that defines the memetic sphere.

Memes allow us to address what's breaking us down—such as the unchecked greed and corruption that began way back in the early stages of global colonization and is now causing climate change—without risking the kind of vulnerability that genuine emotion (be it hope or anger) requires. Memes allow us to commit to traveling across the country to rally and protest not because we think it will work, but because we think it will fail.

That's the kind of abandon it's going to take to protest climate change, or its forefather—late-stage capitalism—both of which can feel so overwhelming that it's hard to act at all. To really fight climate change and the capitalist systems that created it, maybe we need to stop taking everything so damn seriously. Maybe we need to lighten up—to rage against the apocalypse—to do something utterly absurd, like hold a collective dance-off at the site of the next pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, or a mass juuling session, or all throw tide pods at ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods' house—or something else, something that could only come from the belly of the Interwebs. Something that will flicker on cell phone screens across the country and across the world, provoking smiles or raised eyebrows, calling people to action in spite of themselves, pulling Americans out of their inclination towards apathy.

Maybe the Area 51 revolt could be a lesson. It's proof that today's Americans can and are willing to rally around specific causes. It's proof that memes are extraordinarily powerful weapons or tools, depending how they're used. It's all this, and it's none of this, because memes elude serious scrutiny, existing in a space that looks something like freedom.

Image via CBC


How Memes Sparked an Area 51 Invasion

1 million people have said they're going to Area 51 to meet the aliens. Is this the result of a collective millennial/Gen-Z desire to die, to revolt, or a little bit of both?

It started as most revolutions start: rather innocuously, the product of a half-hearted joke that managed to hit a nerve.

The first whispers of an Area 51 invasion began with a Facebook event called "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us." Hosted by three primary parties—"Shitposting cause im in shambles," "Smyleekun," and "The Hidden Sound"—the page quickly amassed support, with a total of 1 million users committing to "going" as of Monday, July 15.

Several plans of attack have been proposed: "We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry. If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let's see them aliens," posted one of the group's creators.

Other plans were more detailed, dividing raiders into ranks. Revolutionaries could identify themselves as "Karens," "Kyles," "Tylers," and "Daltons," among other things. Karens are, presumably, momager-types, aggressive and fast-talking women. One proposal suggested that we send a "Karen" with "no-nonsense hair" to the front gate to attempt peaceful negotiations; should that fail, the Kyles, pumped up on energy drinks, would be unleashed.

According to Know Your Meme, "Kyle is an online caricature of a white boy referenced as an antagonistic character in memes. Similar to how Karen is used online, 'Kyle' jokes parody of a certain kind of person with a set of characteristics one associates with the name; in 'Kyle's' case, these are characteristics of an angry white male teenager. 'Kyle' is generally presented as rage-filled and aggressive, and he is a fan of Monster Energy Drinks and Axe body spray, which has been documented in the Kyle Punches Drywall meme." In essence, Kyle is the heart and soul of the Area 51 attack. Perhaps Kyle is the heart and soul of the fragile, toxic masculinity at the core of America, or more likely, Kyle is the wreckage left behind when this fragile masculinity reveals itself for the hollow shell that it is.

From there, the memes blossomed like fireworks on the Fourth of July, filling the web with increasingly outlandish theories about what it might be like to actually "see them aliens."

The Call of Area 51

While the Area 51 invasion might be more based in absurdity and conspiracy theory than anything else, the amount of support it's has amassed is not a joke. The U.S. Air Force is scared, as they should be, because the popularity of this event is proof that the people have the capability to organize and take down the government, should they so desire. "[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces...The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets," stated the Air Force, confirming that it knows about the planned raid, and that it's prepared to defend whatever it's hiding inside the base, even at the cost of citizens' lives. That's right: a Facebook meme has the U.S. Military on alert.

Why Area 51? The super-secret military base in the Nevada desert has long been at the center of conspiracy theories that which propose the US government is hiding aliens inside. Other theories include the belief that the government is conducting experiments on teleportation and time travel inside the base.

There's a definitive allure to the prospect of discovering alien life, and that certainly plays a role in the interest. More likely, Area 51 is so alluring because of what it symbolizes. In some ways, it's the perfect representation of the distrust that American people feel in their government and in the state of the world.

In its surreal, almost mystical absurdity, Area 51 just might be the perfect symbolic portrayal of our postmodern hellscape, which seems to be entirely run by the Koch Brothers, juul companies, and tech bros who have achieved god-like status, like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Area 51 feels like it could be the source of whatever oozing, radioactive substance has made the world the way it is today. In a way, it's represents the Truth in a world beyond truth.

In light of this, planning to storm Area 51 via memes feels like a way of meeting our world's absurdity—be it the government's, the Internet's, or any of life's many other oddities—on its own terms.

Even more fascinating than the causes of the proposed Area 51 raid, though, is the rapidity with which the event gained traction. Its success reveals that a full-on political revolution is really just one meme page away. The success of the Area 51 venture shows that it's not hard to amass the kind of support needed to make the government take notice—and that's at least a start.

So grab your Monster drinks, Karens and Kyles of the world, and channel that rage into some hefty Photoshopping. You just might be our best hope at a revolution yet.


MUSIC MONDAY | The Oscars: Best of the Best Original Song goes to...

FEB 26 | Listing All 90 years of Academy Award Winners

Celebrating 90 years of Academy Award-winning music.

Every January, the entertainment community and film fans around the world watch the Academy Awards in eager anticipation. Hundreds of millions of movie lovers watch the glamorous celebrities and extravagant ceremony that reveals who will receive the most prestigious honors in filmmaking.

We thought it would be fun to make a mix of songs that won an Oscar, and also deserved it. There can be politics involved. When you look at some of the other nominees, how could they be passed over? But sometimes the Academy can really get it right. The music that does win can leave a lasting impact as there is a confirmation from the highest authority, that these songs are noteworthy. It becomes a mental note that every time we hear that song, it brings us back to the year we would hear it every day, until it faded from every minute to once in a while. The Oscars guarantee the life of the song lives on for generations.

It will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. PST on March 4, 2018. Jimmy Kimmel will host for a second consecutive year, making him the first person to host back-to-back ceremonies since Billy Crystal in 1997 and 1998.

Below you will find a complete list of every Oscar winner for Best Original Song since 1934. For a complete list of nominees for the 90th Oscars, click here. What music made the final cut?

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