Last night my daughter and I watched the Christmas classic “Frosty the Snowman.” She was quick to notice some of the curious foibles of the story, such as the schoolchildren playing in the snow while wearing shorts and short dresses, as if their legs were immune to the cold; also, Santa Claus leaving Karen stranded on the roof with no way of getting off near the end of the story.
But I watched the show with another agenda. Since last Christmas, many of us have become familiar with the “Karen” trope. “Karen” represents a white, blonde, middle-aged woman who carries a sense of entitlement, making her a difficult customer, and known for her frequent demand to “talk with the manager.” With that trope in mind, I wanted to see if Frosty’s Karen might be one of the first Karens, perhaps the original Karen who started the whole image. From the evidence I witnessed and gathered, I would have to conclude that, yes, Frosty’s Karen is a prototypical Karen.
She does not stand out in the classroom scenes, but she first comes to the forefront when she exaggerates her contribution to the making of the snowman by saying, “The head is the most difficult part. Ask anyone.” None of her friends dares to disagree with that assertion.
Next, Karen must intervene with a police officer who threatens to give Frosty a ticket for disregarding the traffic light and the officer’s instructions. Karen is able to thwart justice by pointing out that Frosty has just come to life and doesn’t know all the rules. A well-known maxim states that “ignorance is no excuse” for breaking the law, but the police officer is charmed by young Karen and gives Frosty a break.
She then speaks for the group when approaching the Ticket Master, wanting to send Frosty by train to the North Pole. When he tells them that the ticket will cost three thousand dollars and four cents (tax included), she is as discouraged as the others. Yet she has no misgivings about putting Frosty in a refrigerated car without purchasing a ticket. When Frosty invites Karen to join him on the train, she agrees instantly, assuming the permission of her mother “as long as I’m home in time for supper.”
From this childhood experience, Karen learns the value of going straight to the top of any organization. What higher authority can she find than Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? Though Santa has a job—a slim window of delivering toys and gifts to every good little boy and girl in the world—he still takes the time to revive Frosty and to bring Karen back to her home (even if he did leave her standing on the roof). No wonder Karen grows up to be a woman who assumes that any problem can be fixed so long as she can speak with the manager.
I fell in love with Karen when I was a little boy. Her devotion to Frosty, her willingness to face risks on his behalf, and her vulnerability all appealed to my sensitive nature. If only I had known what kind of adult Karen would become, I might have hesitated to give my heart away so quickly. In closing, let me say that the group of children dismissed the suggestion of “Oatmeal” as a name for the snowman much too abruptly. J.