The American Girl company has taken to Twitter to express disgust at a “Karen” parody of its dolls that is circulating on Facebook.
The online spoof of the American Girl dolls shows a gun-toting, high-hair sporting, maskless, tracksuit-wearing doll wielding a handgun in a store with other shoppers and shelves of products behind her.
The caption accompanying the photo reads: “Meet Karen! She’s an independent thinker who refuses to wear a mask in public places.”
Social media was quick to pick up on the original Facebook post by “Adam the Creator.”
One poster wrote on July 1 in response to the parody, “@American_Girl, I saw a post of an American Girl doll, Karen, who refuses to wear a mask and carries a gun as disgusting. Is this what we want to teach our children?”
American Girl wrote back in response, “Donna, we were equally disgusted with this post. Please be assured we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure this is removed.”
The company went on to say on July 5 that they were “informed of this post a few days ago and are working with the appropriate teams at American Girl to ensure this copyright violation is handled appropriately.”
Some Felt American Girl Had Missed the Joke
Several posters on Twitter felt American Girl and the poster who complained about the doll had missed the joke, and that by opposing the caricature, the company was giving the parodist added ammunition.
Several armchair intellectual property lawyers chimed in with their thoughts.
“I’ll be happy to explain parody and satire, which are protected speech under the Constitution and the 1st Amendment, to your lawyers since they don’t seem to know this fact,” one wrote.
One librarian pointed out that parody was “a protected version of free speech,” citing Supreme Court precedent.
Another commentator pointed out, “many more people will see Karen if you go with the nonsense copywrite claim. Ignore this and it will pass, fight it and you make Karen a sensation.”
Some even turned the tables on the company, calling out their innate “Kareness” for expressing displeasure at the parody.
The Rise of the Karen
Though its use has been documented for at least a year, the rise of the term “Karen” appears to have coincided with the advent of the novel coronavirus as a short-hand for a middle-aged, entitled white woman who always wants to escalate her complaints to the manager.
Arguably the most famous Karen to emerge in recent months is Central Park Karen — a woman, later identified as Amy Cooper, who inaccurately accused a Black man, Christian Cooper, who was out bird-watching in New York, of threatening her and trying to attack her when he asked her to leash her dog.
The parody American Girl doll has similarities in her appearance and in the fact she is holding a gun to Patricia McCloskey, a St. Louis woman who “defended” her home along with her husband, Mark, during a protest march calling for the resignation of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28. The husband and wife, who work as personal injury lawyers, armed themselves to prevent protesters from walking onto their property.
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