Miss Americana is a documentary directed by Lana Wilson and it follows Taylor Swift as she goes through the hardest episodes in her life as a female artist and how she came out stronger than ever and in many ways, became the person she needed to become for herself.
My oldest memories of Taylor Swift consist of her cameo in Hannah Montana: The Movie and the You Belong With Me music video because they aired it on Disney Channel and I couldn’t stop listening to it. After that were the singles which I couldn’t get out of my head. I never really saw her as anything but her music which was fun, relatable and honest, in fact, this documentary was my first time looking at Swift as a person rather than a celebrity. I didn’t even learn about the first Kanye-incident until a few years ago and I caught myself trying to fit in and find a reason why I shouldn’t like her when the whole world turned against her. Granted I was only fifteen years old so I didn’t know how to form an opinion on my own. I never tweeted anything, in fact, I was never vocal about it but I made a mental note that I shouldn’t like Taylor Swift anymore and I feel horrible about that now mostly because I never stopped listening to her music but also because when I watched Miss Americana I felt like I was, in a way part of the problem.
Many times we put a line distancing us from celebrities and automatically think that just because they’re famous means that they’re not also human. This is shown really effectively when we see a glimpse of the reputation world tour which is incredibly loud, full of life and energy and then it cuts to a scene of almost complete silence and loneliness as Swift enters her apartment. It’s a jarring contrast but it’s one we really don’t ever think about. We get to see many moments like these where we are reminded that what we see in the media about one person doesn’t mean that that’s all they are. The documentary has many moments like these where it makes you stop and think about how she has genuine concerns and worries just like the rest of us. I really love how this feature gives us a look at Taylor at different stages in her life. She always had a passion for music and it’s that passion and hard work which bleeds into her work. I love that at sixteen, she was already worrying about how she’s gonna make her career last because it feels so down-to-earth. The scene where after she won her second Grammy, she really had to step back and think about how she wants someone to celebrate with but she doesn’t is striking because we never get to see celebrities think about these things. It’s refreshing and it leads into one of the most important parts of the documentary, the media vs female celebrities.
It’s a known fact that female celebrities are held to higher standards because of their gender and sadly even in 2020, we’re really not in a brighter future. Swift opens up to having an eating disorder where she exercised but rarely ate, something which resulted in her fainting after almost every concert. She then got better and realized what she was doing wasn’t healthy and improved her diet. However, the movie then shows a montage of adults, (emphasis on adults) complaining about her either because she’s “too skinny” or “too good” or because “she’s annoying” and it really made me realize how much we think a screen can protect us because no one in their right mind would say these things to her. The same goes for the media reporting on how she’s “going through guys like a train” which is incredibly sexist considering how many men have done the same and are considered sexy because of it. There is this aura of hatred whenever she is written about or talked about and it’s infused even more so when the second Kanye-Fiasco happens. Seeing the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty tweets being so incredibly careless and appaling. It goes back to how screens make us think that we are invincible. We don’t know how other people react when they see those tweets only this time we do and it really puts up a mirror in front of a misogynistic society because if a man did what Taylor did, we would turn our eyes the other way and continue living our lives. It’s as she said, “It feels like it’s more than music at this point”.
This horrible event caused her to reset her mind and start new which she did. She found love with British actor Joe Alwyn and had to break down her mind and rearrange it with a new way of life. She says that she was finally happy because she did so in her own way and not in the way she was trained. She was happy without anyone else’s input and I love that line a lot because it’s how we should live life. Do what makes you happy, not what others think will make you happy. This translated into her hit single “ME!” which I now have a newfound appreciation for. Unfortunately, she had to go through a sexual assault case which sparked her desire to go political and influence her massive following to vote for equal rights and to fight to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Doing this was an incredibly bold move but she fought for what she believed in and made a huge impact. She says “I’ve educated myself now, and it’s time to take the masking tape off of my mouth.” That line really connected with me and I hope that it connects with others who will hopefully do the same. She then writes a song titled “Only The Young” which is meant to inspire this generation to not lose hope and fight for the future they want.
As someone who was a casual fan of Taylor Swift, I can happily say that I am a full-on, hardcore Swiftie. The documentary was consistently engaging and I never felt bored, I could’ve easily watched two more hours of it. I feel like Miss Americana was truly a documentary about transformation. We see Taylor at multiple stages of her life and career and how she went from a little girl with an insane passion for music to a lyrical goddess, global superstar and advocate for equal rights. In reality, the old Taylor didn’t die, she learned from her experience, just had enough of this bullshit, rose up and spoke her mind.