Taylor Swift stunned the world when she announced that she was doing a documentary with Netflix. Swifties across the globe were left anxiously anticipating the drop date, counting down the days until we could get a peek at the life behind the curtain of America’s sweetheart.
Thankfully, that day has come! Taylor Swift has bared all in her ‘Miss Americana’ documentary, and it’s something that this Swiftie loved. Here are some of my favourite parts from the documentary…
We all think we know Taylor Swift. The good girl next door turned preppy pop princess. The wronged, the forlorn, the victim. We’ve all got a preconceived notion about the singer (though, in my eyes, her kindness speaks louder than any ‘victim-playing’ could). She’s famous for being a walking, talking PR machine, rarely putting a foot wrong.
‘Miss Americana’ strips back the notions of Taylor’s squeaky clean image. She details how she was always told to be “a good girl”, smile and wave and never step out of line. As she matures, though, things change. Taylor speaks up.
She takes a stance, changing from her famous political silence. (In my view, it’s an artists’ right to remain silent, if they so wish to). She spoke up in support of the Democrats, saying that she “doesn’t give a fuck” if Trump doesn’t like her. That’s my girl.
The documentary, though, shows the steps it takes Taylor to get to this point in her life. She’s not doing it to be controversial or to get her name in headlines, she’s doing it because she wants to. ‘Miss Americana’ truly shows the woman – the human – behind the celebrity, and for that reason alone it’s a powerful take.
I also loved hearing Taylor Swift swear throughout the doc. It further cements the dismantling of her preconceived image, showing that she’s a grown ass woman now. Every time she dropped an f-bomb, I was giddy.
My absolute favourite part of the documentary, though, was getting a glimpse into Taylor’s song-writing process. Having followed her for a good few years now, I’ve always known that her songs are her own, and she has a heavy hand in the production of her tracks. Watching her interact with Little and Antonoff, though, truly shows just how creative Taylor Swift is.
From making lyrics from simple melodies trapped within the confines of her mind to detailing the type of backing she wants on her songs, it’s a fascinating insight into the deep pools of her creative mind. Truly brilliant for any Swiftie – or, indeed – any music lover.
(Side note: The fact that ‘ME!’ originally had the word “bullshit” in just gives me absolute liiiiife.)
Leaving Joe – her long-term, private – boyfriend pretty much out of the documentary was a brilliant move on Lana Wilson’s part. It keeps the sanctity of their relationship, focusing instead on the starlet instead of the man surrounding her. We only get brief glimpses – the back of his head, him holding the camera as she serenades him (my heart!), love-fuelled glances… It puts into perspective the song ‘Lover’ in all of its shades.
‘Miss Americana’ shows that Taylor Swift is a powerful, creative woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in. It’s not all for press or for attention – it’s a movement that Taylor wants to encourage – further strengthened with her latest song ‘Only the Young’. Watching her argue and plead with her father to speak up on political issues shows the fire in Taylor’s stomach, the passion to use her platform to do some good in the world and fight for what she believes in. It was heartbreaking that she even had to justify herself, but, in the end, she declares that she’s going to do it anyway.
It’s a natural progression. This move paved the way for ‘You Need To Calm Down’ all of these years later, the LGBT-friendly anthem that simultaneously celebrates women. Getting an insight into how this song came to be, and what happened in Taylor’s personal life for her to get there, was brilliant.
We get an insight into the day-to-day life of being a global superstar, which, strangely, is fuelled by loneliness and self-doubt. Fans camp outside her home, screeching when she walks out of her door. “I’m very aware that this isn’t normal,” she states. No, it’s truly not. Celebrities are people too, at the heart of it, and this treatment of them as if fans are entitled to invade their privacy simply because you enjoy their art it… strange.
We even see a proposal occur in front of the singer which was, uh, awkward. Swift handled herself as well as anyone could have, when you’re used as a prop and are forced to watch as two crying strangers propose a foot away from you.
A theme that bubbles beneath the surface is Taylor’s issues with self-doubt. When Kanye interrupted her speech and everyone started booing him, she thought that the entire crowd was booing her – which must have a massive effect at nineteen years old. Swift seems to jump to these conclusions relatively quickly. When ‘#taylorswiftisoverparty’ trended worldwide, she wondered just how many people had to tweet that for it to trend. When ‘reputation’ isn’t nominated for any of the Grammy’s main categories, she states: “It’s fine. I just have to make a better record.” She seems to constantly be seeking outside validation, constantly needing awards and love to have her art be valued – even after discovering that felt pretty empty after ‘1989’s massive critical success.
It’s not an easy path for anyone to overcome, particularly someone who creates art to be judged and critiqued constantly, but it’s one I’d love for Taylor to tackle, as least for her own sake. As is the case with any human being, their worth is their own, and outside opinions don’t truly, deeply matter – even if they’re tied to sales, awards and cash. That shit comes from within.
In short, ‘Miss Americana’ is like spending 85 minutes with Taylor Swift. The good, the bad, the dirty. It showcases her rise to fame, her dwindling reputation and her eventual journey to find self-validation. Honestly, this could’ve been a 13-episode (get it?) series, and I’ve had watched every single second.
For more on Taylor Swift, have a read of my review of ‘Lover’ (hint: I loved it). Or, see my initial thoughts on ‘You Need To Calm Down’. Man, it’s been a good year to be a Swiftie, I’ll tell ya that.