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Deconstructing Karen (2022)

2022 BENTONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW!


Regina Jackson and Saira Rao run an organization called Race2Dinner where they hold dinner parties in which they sit down with white women and discuss racial issues. Deconstructing Karen aims to attack racism head on and work together to put an end to the horrific things that take place in the United States. This is one of the most unique documentaries you will ever see, and it refuses to pull any punches.


In the first few minutes Deconstructing Karen tells the world exactly what it is and what it aims to do. I don’t mind political commentary in cinema, especially when that’s the purpose of the film–but when an entire film aims to place the blame on one particular group of people, it becomes incredibly difficult to invest in the content. What is Deconstructing Karen? It’s a film that places the blame on white women, and avoids ideas of accountability. From the first moments viewers are well aware that white women are the focus here, the scapegoats for a series of issues present in the United States. Feeling this way may be misconstrued as believing that racism doesn’t exist. I know that racism exists, but placing the blame on one group of people doesn’t fix things, it simply perpetuates the cycle.


It seems that throughout the course of Deconstructing Karen the filmmakers look to hide what it is, a racist narrative, a way to rip America apart at the seams–and while, again, it seems that the filmmakers want to cover this fact with a thin veil, it’s massively clear. Sadly for those filmmakers, however, it’s impossible to hide what the film truly is–racist. White people are told over and over again that they are racists, that they perpetuate a cycle of white supremacy, and that they are the primary reason that racism exists. It’s impossible to move forward, it’s impossible to accept the truth when the only thing happening is placing blame on others–and that’s exactly what Deconstructing Karen does throughout its entirety.


Deconstructing Karen is a disgusting, scary, and dangerous film. It aims to ostracize everyone that’s not a person of color, to call out every single white person, and to place the blame on them for all of the horrible things that have happened throughout the course of American history. The commentary present is that all white women are untrustworthy, that African Americans cannot be racist, and that white women aren’t allowed to show emotion. Deconstructing Karen expresses to the world what exactly is wrong with it, and it’s the perpetuation of this idea that placing blame is the key to success rather than self-observation and accountability.


I try to look at every single film I watch analytically, to appreciate the literary and cinematic aspects of a film, and not just to judge it by its content–because that’s the only fair way to review a film. I tried, desperately, to appreciate something about Deconstructing Karen, but nothing about it appeals to me. Cinematically it’s average, and narratively–because regardless of the fact that this is a documentary–it’s very forward about having a carefully constructed agenda. I struggle with every facet of Deconstructing Karen, and it never veers from its racially charged path.


Deconstructing Karen is the most disgusting thing that I’ve ever seen, and I felt sick to my stomach throughout the course of my viewing. I didn’t feel sick for the reasons that Jackson and Rao want the world to, but because of how dangerous and racist this film is–and I can’t understand how anyone thinks this is a good idea. The filmmakers don’t necessarily need to be more subtle in their approach, I believe they need to alter their approach entirely. Pointing fingers only makes the problem worse, and that’s what Deconstructing Karen does over and over again. I don’t think this will surprise Deconstructing Karen’s filmmakers, because I’m sure that they expect to upset some viewers, but this is the worst film I’ve ever seen; and if it is any representation of the direction in which the world is moving, I’m scared for the future.


Directed by Patty Ivins Specht.


Written by Elisa Bonora, Patty Ivins Specht, & Rit Saraswat.


Starring Saira Rao, Regina Jackson, etc.


/10


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