Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie blockbuster came together for a summer like no other. Sequined, pink and unapologetically feminine, these events took the world by storm, shattering records, boosting economies and paving the way for progress.
Some argue this ‘funflation’ phenomenon is fleeting, while others suggest it’s a lasting transformation. Either way, one thing is clear – women-directed initiatives are the driving force behind both profits and progress. And as the narrative of unapologetic femininity continues to unfold, the status quo is rapidly evolving.
Swift, for example, was just named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. According to Time CEO Jessica Sibley, choosing Swift was an obvious choice.
“I look at her as a business leader and a CEO of her own brand, and the results that she’s driven are just unbelievable. Her Eras concert drove US$5 billion in revenue. She’s driven [the] GDP of the United States economy to US$4 billion. Just in one week, in Los Angeles, her concert drove US$300 million to the local economy and created 3,000 new jobs … I could keep going on with these stats. Really, there wasn’t any other choice,” she explained in a recent interview.
This success has catapulted Swift to billionaire status. And while she’s earned every penny of her fortune, she’s made it a priority to spread her wealth, providing much-needed donations to local food banks along her tour route. She also showcased her appreciation to those who make her concerts possible, paying out bonuses totaling US$55 million to tour employees, including US$100,000 bonuses for her truck drivers.
Similarly, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour has proven to be a powerhouse not only in music, but also as a catalyst for economic growth and social progress. With a staggering half a billion dollars in revenue, her 56-stop tour stands as the highest-grossing by a black artist.
Her commitment to philanthropy is as strong as her musical prowess, as she pledged a significant portion of the tour’s proceeds – US$2 million – to students and entrepreneurs through her BeyGOOD Foundation, founded in 2013 to champion economic equity and education in marginalized communities.
Beyoncé’s impact extends beyond traditional entertainment spheres, delving into cultural and empowerment realms. Her Renaissance tour embodies her dedication to pushing boundaries and sparking important conversations from feminism to racial equality.
Renaissance weaves elements of ballroom culture, voguing and collaboration with LGBTQI+ activists and artists like Honey Dijon and Ts Madison. This not only elevates the artistic merits of her album, but also amplifies and celebrates the voices and perspectives of the queer community within mainstream music. And clearly, people can’t get enough of it.
Greta Gerwig has long been hailed as one of Hollywood’s most talented directors. But her recent work with Barbie has elevated her to the next level. The film has grossed more than US$1 billion at the global box office, making it the first movie solely directed by a woman to cross that threshold.
While it initially looked like the movie’s success was spawning from the selling power of nostalgia, it soon became clear that Barbie was about more than bringing back a beloved, if not controversial, icon of the 20th century. It was an exposé, revealing the insidious effects of a still very deeply rooted patriarchy.
Yet both men and women lined up in 50 shades of pink to watch the movie. They paid to consume the fantasy and satire that cleverly illustrated the social and gender inequalities of the real world.
Barbie touched home and underscores the appetite and need, not for more movies about toys, but for diverse art and perspectives that spawn from female-led initiatives.
Uniting the world through joyful and unabashed femininity, these women created a global celebration that brought together people from diverse backgrounds, irrespective of sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, against the backdrop of war, inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. And nobody was asking for a refund.
Their global success signals a promise of a more progressive, inclusive society where everyone belongs. The summer of 2023 has shown that society – which has historically favored male-centric stories, often overlooking the diverse experiences of women – is undergoing a transformative shift. There’s a hunger for narratives that embrace diversity, empower women and promote equality.
As Swift tells Time magazine, this “three-part summer of feminine extravaganza” feels like an inflection point.
“If we have to speak stereotypically about the feminine and the masculine, women have been fed the message that what we naturally gravitate toward – girlhood, feelings, love, breakups, analyzing those feelings, talking about them nonstop, glitter, sequins – are more frivolous than the things that stereotypically gendered men gravitate toward,” she said.
“And what has existed since the dawn of time? A patriarchal society. What fuels a patriarchal society? Money, flow of revenue, the economy. So actually, if we’re going to look at this in the most cynical way possible, feminine ideas becoming lucrative means that more female art will get made. It’s extremely heartening.”
As the curtains close on this summer spectacle, one thing’s for certain – this powerful trio didn’t just paint the patriarchy pink: they’ve created a masterpiece.