Whether or not you like Taylor Swift, Lana Wilson’s documentary about her is an eye-opener for everyone. It is common to think of celebrities as special creatures, with perfect lives. Miss Americana gives Swift’s perspective of her own story in becoming one of the biggest icons of the global music industry. It brings to light that, amidst all the headlines, drama, criticism and bullying, there was a human being who was hurting.
Swift looks back at her career and narrates the different emotions she felt at those times in a voiceover that runs throughout the course of the film. She talks about how she was taught to be a “good girl” in order to be successful. Her idea of happiness revolved around being liked by everyone because, by her logic if you are nice to people you would expect them to be nice to you in return. As we know, that’s not what happened.
In 2014 Swift’s career was at its peak, with 1989 eventually winning album of the year at the Grammys. What followed next was a dehumanizing experience that, I believe, no person should ever have to go through. To everyone who has ever said that they hate Swift, my question to you is: do you even know her?
Swift discussed the hashtag #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trending on Twitter and the excessive hate she received online for simply existing. The documentary highlights the ability of social media to make it easier for people to anonymously attack others, often without thinking about the consequences of their disgusting actions. There is a clip in the documentary from Kanye West’s concert where he led his audience in a chant of “F*** Taylor Swift.” Did anyone in that crowd think of the impact that could have on a person? I’m sorry if I offend any West fans, but his actions discrediting Swift’s Grammy win at 17, and continuing to bully her for years, is not okay.
The next issue the documentary delves into is Swift’s eating disorder, often triggered by critical headlines and paparazzi photos that she felt were a violation of her privacy. At one point she says, “I had to deconstruct an entire belief system for my own personal sanity.” She disappeared from the public for over a year, thinking that’s what people wanted. But it lead to her understanding that the media will always twist the truth anyway.
The documentary shows the release of her album Reputation, which was her creative response to all the hate she received. She was unapologetic, and it was beautiful. As hard as it was to watch Swift cry while talking about her sexual assault trial, clips of her with her mom and her boyfriend really warmed my heart. At the end of the day, it was only her friends, family and fans that mattered to her, and I’m glad they stuck around.
Swift finally decided to share her political opinions after years of being secretive about them, during the midterm elections in 2018. In a heartbreaking scene she talks about the voting record of conservative senator Marsha Blackburn, who voted against the Protection of Women Act, and how she couldn’t let Blackburn represent Tennessee. Swift risked losing money, fans and power to fight the system. Honestly, if that’s not genuine, I don’t know what is. The song specifically written for the film Only the Young encourages young listeners to take charge and sway American politics in the right direction.
The documentary also exposes the patriarchy in the music industry, an issue on which Swift has spoken about at length. Swift’s song “The Man” perfectly encapsulates her stance on the bold and subtle ways in which male domination continues to exist. In another heartbreaking line, she said “I want to work really hard while society is still tolerating me being successful.” Lesser known songs like “Clean,” “All too well” and “Out of the Woods” were also featured in the documentary.
Overall, Miss Americana was a real, vulnerable and powerful documentary that highlighted the negative effects of the media, patriarchy and American politics, while illustrating the importance of owning who you are. Swift’s story is inspiring, thought provoking and heartbreaking, all at the same time. It’s upsetting that a woman as powerful as she is, had to fight to prove her merit in a world that was constantly attacking her. After watching Miss Americana, you are guaranteed to respect her as an artist and as a person. If you still, by any chance, want to remain in the “I hate Taylor Swift club,” good luck because Swift is here to stay, and she will shine regardless of anyone’s unwanted opinion.å