“Miss Americana” Review
Approval. Misogyny. Politics.
Approval. Misogyny. Politics. These are just some of the topics that “Miss Americana”, better known as Taylor Swift, addresses in her newest Netflix documentary that emphasizes the stark difference between Swift’s extravagant performances and raw behind-the-scenes life.
Swift began to write songs at the early age of thirteen and was first signed to a major music label two years later. Now at thirty, Swift has chosen to open Pandora’s box to reveal the intense pressures that she has faced during her lifelong career in the music industry. The theme of “approval” was the first glaring topic that the pop star opened with as she felt it was the benchmark to gauge her self-worth.
“Those pats on the head were all I lived for. I become the person who everyone wanted me to be. You get to the mountain top and you think ‘Oh God what now?’” Swift said, “I had to deconstruct an entire belief system for my own personal sanity.”
Additionally, Swift confessed that she had developed an unhealthy criticism of her body. All the images she viewed from the media shouted out to her imperfection. At one point the star even started to starve herself, believing that it was more of a norm in pursuit to maintain image rather than an unhealthy action. Body image has increasingly become an issue with celebrities like Demi Lovato, Lindsey Stirling and countless others who have struggled to accept their body.
Swift’s personal life seemed to intensify as a sexual harassment case came into light during 2017. The singer countersued a former radio DJ who she claimed inappropriately groped her years prior to the allegations. Swift would go on to win the case, but stated that she did not feel she actually won as she had to keep defending herself against an opposing party and probing media.
Politics were another critical issue that was addressed as Swift claimed that the music industry had persisted that she stay silent on the topic in fear of causing a dip in sales.
However, Swift felt charged to make a difference in 2018 by publicly siding with Tennessee’s Democratic Senate candidate, Phil Bredesen. The singer additionally stated that she felt the opposing Republican candidate did not advocate for sexual assault victims or the LGBTQ community. Swift has also spoken out against President Trump.
The documentary has so much more to unpack as the pop singer’s mother undergoes cancer, she elaborates on the Kanye West debacle, and has had to find ways to constantly rebrand herself to stay relevant. Despite multiple Artist of the Year Awards, Grammys, and other awards it is clear that even Taylor Swift can become unhappy.
“Miss Americana” similarly hits upon the specific pressures of the music industry as teenage stars grow up in the business like “Chasing Happiness”, the Jonas Brother’s documentary. Although, it sets itself apart from “Chasing Happiness” by highlighting specific problems that women face in today’s hypermedia society.
Lover her or hate her. Swift’s story is human, and any watcher would be hard-pressed to not empathize with some part of her life. After all, she is just a girl who found comfort in songwriting.