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Gender Equity on the Stage Circa 2024

Last night, the Grammys 2024 were filled with women and their extraordinary talent, finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Let's start with Miley Cyrus winning the Best Song award for "Flowers." You remember "Flowers," the song about her breakup with Liam Hemsworth and how he wronged her. And in the end, it doesn't matter because she is stronger and more fabulous without him than she was with him. Plus, it has a great beat, and I have danced to it many times, although never publicly.

It arrives to critical and popular acclaim. But she couldn't bask in that for long; she was criticized for the subject matter of "Flowers." How could she expose him that way? What an invasion of his privacy! Telling her story of his betrayal (which was never denied, mind you) was viewed as a crime, possibly worthy of jail time.

Then we had Taylor Swift's Album of the Year win, a record-breaking four wins in this category under her belt, this time for "Midnights." Wow, making Grammy history and winning the most coveted prize of the night. Four Best Album wins! Go Taylor!

Can we talk about the road Taylor Swift has been on, and the personal attacks she has endured on her way to greatness? Most recently for her relationship with that football player, whose name escapes me. How dare she show up and take the limelight away by cheering him on? Or, remember when she won and Kanye Swift came on stage and tried to take the award away because he thought Beyonce should have won? And last night, Beyonce's husband did a similar thing, saying that Beyonce has won more Grammys than any other artist (Go B), but not Best Album? Outrageous! Can she ever just win, and be celebrated for the work?

Hold on though; there is hope. Quietly, in the middle of the Grammys, we had Tracy Chapman walk on stage with her simple guitar and, along with Luke Combs, sing "Fast Car." Watch the performance here.

You remember "Fast Car." Chapman released it in 1988, and for years, I played it over and over again along with the rest of her album. I loved it so much that my fabulous daughter Sarah sent me the video of last night's performance, which I watched this morning, softly crying at the duo's singing and every single person in the room singing along. Rapper and country and pop, all united with the incredibly poignant message about having a fast car and having to make decisions about where to drive to so we can "be someone, be someone."

Luke Combs' version a year ago made it to number 2 on the same chart that placed Tracy's version at number 6 in 1988. Tracy disappeared from writing and performing because she said she didn't like being in the public eye. Who can blame her?

"Fast Car" is the future. At least I hope it is. Gender parity on the stage without paying a personal price.

I have to add something here about the film stage and 2023. We can't forget about "Barbie," the highest-grossing film of 2023 and a critical success as well. Greta Gerwig, the film's director, was not included in the Oscar nominations. Not to mention Barbie herself, played by Margot Robbie. Seriously?

What does a girl have to do to be recognized for her genius? Both Robbie and Gerwig's statements say it's fine. The work was enough, and maybe it is, at least for now. We will continue to excel in the arts and all that we do. Now that we have the resources to make the music and films we want, we can compete head-on with the best of the men who have been able to hone their crafts without the same "personal" attention designed to undermine our greatness.

Forget about all of that. Just listen to Tracy and Luke singing together and watch their visual cues to each other. Witness his amazing respect for her genius at the end. Know that there is room on the stage for all of us, without gender being a differentiating factor.

--Christine Merser, Managing Partner, Blue2 Media


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