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What do Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Bottoms have in common?

New female singers, authors and filmmakers express the spirit of our times in their work

What do Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Bottoms have in common? New female singers, authors and filmmakers express the spirit of our times in their work

Even just by observing the main entertainment industry awards, there has been a significant concentration of new female authors, musicians, and directors who, like never before, have managed to channel the spirit of our time. They unabashedly show what is actually happening: a radical change in the aesthetic and visual conformation of the generational narrative in pink. Understanding how these different artistic languages correlate and influence each other allows us to grasp the expressive patterns of the new generations. In this article, we will connect Taylor Swift, Emma Seligman, and Olivia Rodrigo to understand what is happening among girls and what the main themes of this type of audio-visual product are.

Emma Seligman's case

If it's no longer surprising that Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has become its own microcosm, a universe where generations meet, an alternative reality, and that Olivia Rodrigo with her latest album Guts has managed to channel the teenage dream of gen Z, it can be argued that this role, in cinema, has been taken on by Emma Seligman. Since her debut film Shiva Baby, which explored the coming-of-age journey of a young woman capturing her anxieties and fears within the claustrophobic context of a Jewish funeral, Emma Seligman has meticulously interpreted the spirit of today's woman. She uses genres at her pleasure while simultaneously overturning their perception. The elements of psychological horror and teenage coming-of-age comedy, along with references to American Pie found in Bottoms, her latest work, serve to tell the identity search of today's girls in a courageous, realistic, and new way, flipped from the misogynistic styles of the past.

Statements from the Director of Bottoms 

"I missed that genre," says Seligman. "I missed the exaggerated high school movies… I just wanted to bring them back. And part of bringing it back for me is making it queer and feminine. But for me, this doesn't change the genre; it's just my version," she added. "I think back to high school: it was terrible, especially when you're an emotional girl starting to understand how much the world is against you and how much the world hates you as a woman. I was trying to fit in. I hated my body; that was the biggest thing, as it is for so many people. I didn't know how to handle my emotions, so I thought I was crazy. I didn't know I was queer. It just sucks: it sucks being a teenager." The individualistic intentions of the protagonists, two teenage losers wanting to conquer cheerleaders by forming a fight club, become a means of exploring the state of the female and queer situation within a school context and beyond, much like Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club did for male identity in the '90s.

The Theme in Singer-Songwriters: Olivia Rodrigo and Charli XCX 

While Seligman addresses this theme in queer and '90s-inspired cinema, Olivia Rodrigo does it in music, connecting seamlessly to her. "I'm not cool, I'm not smart, and I can't even parallel park," sings Olivia in Brutal. After all, Guts is a concept album about being a teenager in the Z generation inspired by the styles of '90s pop-punk. Olivia, a former Disney Channel child star, questions the role of beauty culture and what it means to approach adulthood, as reflected in her songs. "Will I spend the rest of my years wishing I could go back?" she despairs, much like the two protagonists in Bottoms. Returning to the film and further emphasizing its connection to music, its soundtrack (co-composed by Charli XCX) tackles these themes using electronic music to narrate the evolution of the protagonists and their situation, placing the lyrics at the forefront as a narrative element.

A New Female Entertainment 

It's a fusion of genres and types of content that clash and meet, with common themes and different modalities. Thanks to these artists, more and more creators decide to follow suit, bringing to the forefront the concerns and fears of young girls, even the most unspoken ones, with a courage and freedom never seen before. Who knows, maybe Taylor Swift herself will compose the soundtrack for Seligman's next feature film.