Olivia Rodrigo Has GUTS: The Controversy Around The Guts World Tour

Emma Parrott ‘27 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS world tour has started out with a surge of family-friendly controversy. The once-child actress worked her way into the music industry after being discovered for her singing and songwriting on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In 2021, Rodrigo released her first single, “Drivers License” which became the most streamed song worldwide for that year. Then, just four months later, her album Sour was released, going 4x platinum. Discussing themes of heartbreak and adolescence, the then 17-year-old began to make a name for herself outside of her Disney persona. Given the novelty of both performance and industry, Rodrigo’s inexperience and naivety enabled many to perceive her engagements as an embodiment of child-like wonder.

However, as 2023 came to a close, the release of her second album GUTS revealed a new level of angst and rebellion with lyrics about going to clubs, getting revenge, and underage drinking. Creating discourse surrounding her reputation, this development coincided with Rodrigo’s commencement of a world tour, just three days after turning 21, showcasing her newfound confidence.

It would take no time for social media platforms to circulate videos of these concert performances. The awe-struck girl who was all the rave during the SOUR tour is no longer traceable to the stage presence depicted in this new era of upheaval. While there are fans who support this change as Rodrigo experiments and explores her adulthood, many fans are shocked and upset with the lack of a family-friendly filter. When one takes to TikTok, it is not difficult to find videos and comments discussing these opinions, with various parents upset at uncensored lyrics and suggestive choreography. 

In a performance of the unreleased song “Obsessed,” Rodrigo can be seen sensually dancing on the ground as she makes upward thrusting motions with her hips. In other songs, she can be seen lifting up her shirt to show her bra and even changing lyrics to be more provocative. Specifically in the song “All American Bitch,” the lyric “And perfect all-american hips” was changed to end with “tits” instead of “hips”. Rodrigo previously confessed in an interview that “tits” was the original lyric, but that it was changed to be more tame. With her revocation of modesty, it is evident that Rodrigo is ready to publicly embrace her years of adulthood. 

In spite of this change, parents voiced an uproar of disapproval as these stylistic choices entirely misaligned with their expectations. In one TikTok, a user juxtaposes Taylor Swift’s engagement with a child at a concert against footage from the GUTS performances. In the caption, the user states that she loves both Swift and Rodrigo, along with her 9-year-old daughter,  but that there is a, “Pretty big difference in these shows”. This led users to comment how Olivia Rodrigo’s tour is not advertised for kids and that it is the parent’s job, not the artists’,  to protect their child. One user specifically states, “Olivia Rodrigo is really meant for teens and young adults. People just assume [because] she used to be on Disney, she would be family friendly.” Evidently, there is a clear divide in opinion between parental and teen fans, with the discourse only intensifying as the tour continues. As Tiktoks and threads continue to multiply, the tide seems to be in favor of the artist’s choices. However, as more awareness is brought to this topic, opinions are likely to vary and new voices are expected to come forth.  

Nonetheless, regardless of opinion, Olivia Rodrigo appears unbothered by this controversy. With confidence that has yet to waver, Rodrigo continues to tune out those who oppose her stylistic choices. Fans conclude that a new era is on the uprise, one that garners a more rockstar-centric aesthetic. While it is inevitable for people to disagree, there are still an ample amount of fans who accompany her on this journey of experimentation and self-discovery. 

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