Miss Americana reminded me why I love Taylor Swift

Swift breaks her political silence in new Netflix documentary

Julia has been a faithful fan of Taylor's for years.
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I really love Taylor Swift. I’m proud to say that I know the lyrics to each of her songs, and I anticipate her new releases more than any other artist’s. In my humble opinion, she’s one of the best songwriters and storytellers out there.

Sometimes, though, it seems as if I’m the only person who isn’t questioning Swift’s intentions. Throughout her career, public opinion has deemed her calculating, fake, and annoying. In 2016, for example, #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty was the number-one trend on Twitter worldwide.

As a result, I sometimes forget why I’m such a faithful fan. Swift’s new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, reminded me why I am.

Miss Americana documents the life and career of Taylor Swift from her start to present day, focusing primarily on her Reputation and Lover eras—the years surrounding her two most recent albums, released in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

As a whole, the documentary reminded me that Swift is so much more than a songwriter—she’s a resilient person with valuable opinions. It proves that she truly deserves every ounce of success that’s come her way. 

The first half of Miss Americana centres around the struggles Swift has faced as a result of achieving her fame very early in life. She discusses the damage inflicted by living for applause and basing her entire self-worth on the approval of strangers. I found this segment to be a surprisingly engrossing step into Swift’s world. Somehow, Director Lana Wilson makes the limited issue of what fame can do to your psyche seem relatable.

Miss Americana really hits its stride. However, in the second half, it’s here that Swift gets into the heart of her story: a young woman finding her voice in a society that seeks to silence women.

As Swift rose to fame, she was portrayed as a squeaky-clean American girl—her country roots, clean lyrics, and elaborate annual Fourth of July parties are a testament to this image. From the start of her career, she was encouraged to keep her mouth shut. In the documentary, she recalls being told time and time again, “A nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people.”

Now, Swift has seemingly retired from her decade-long career as the poster child for the stars and stripes.

She finally broke her political silence during the 2018 Tennessee midterm election when she endorsed Democrat Phil Bredesen over Republican Marsha Blackburn, whom she calls “Trump in a wig” for her anti-feminist and anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Swift says in the documentary that seeing a representative of her home state violate “basic human rights” was the last straw for her silence. In Miss Americana, she explains, “I need to be on the right side of history.”

Swift’s political voice also shines through in her most recent album, Lover. An obvious example is her song “The Man,” in which Swift sings, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.” Less obvious is “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” a pithy condemnation of the Trump administration concealed under a high school metaphor. It’s no surprise that the documentary took inspiration from this song for its title.

Miss Americana’s exploration of Swift’s desperation to break from the stereotype her career was built on is enlightening. It speaks to the ridiculous, damaging expectations placed on female performers and the necessity to destroy those expectations for their own mental health and for the young women and girls who idolize them. 

Furthermore, this documentary does a wonderful job of balancing the intense content with the light. It features plenty of behind-the-scenes song-writing, Swift’s cats, and delightful cameos from other performers, like “ME!” collaborator Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco.

These scenes, plus ones featuring her beloved family members, all do a good job of humanizing Swift. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that celebrities are people too, but Miss Americana reminded me of that fact. It brought Swift back down to Earth from her heavenly cloud of fame, glitter, and fairytale relationships. 

I think this documentary is a must-watch for everyone—even the Taylor Swift haters out there. It provides a rare, honest glimpse into the relationship between the music industry and gender roles.

In the end, Miss Americana reminded me why I’ve remained a faithful fan of Taylor Swift all these years. I’ve always loved her lyrics, but now, after seeing her stay true to her morals in the face of worldwide resistance, I respect her as a human being as well. 

Seeing the artist I’ve grown up loving facing her demons and ripping the tape off her mouth gave me an odd sense of pride. Perhaps it could turn you into a Swiftie too.

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