Music & Culture

Everything We Learned From Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana Documentary

Taylor Swift has started off yet another year with a documentary, and Miss Americana highlighted Swift in a light the world had yet to see. It’s not your typical, straightforward, “I am successful. I have had no difficulties in life,” type of story, but rather everything else in between that comes with being in the spotlight.

The documentary, directed by Lana Wilson, began with Swift in her natural element, playing the piano at her Nashville residence as her cat, Benjamin Button, tramples around her piano. As Taylor sat near the window, she reflected on how her career has been controlled throughout the past 13 years, stating, “My entire moral code is a need to be thought of as ‘good’,’” and it was a belief system that stemmed all the way back to her childhood.

Swift explained she was not truly herself — she was the version of herself that everyone wanted her to be. She was trained from the start of her career to seek constant praise and never divert from that. This constructed her musical development, reaction to politics, and life as a whole, as she always sought to be perceived as the “good girl” who never did anything to disrupt the status quo.

The film also largely focused on the need for women in the music industry to constantly reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant, illustrating Swift’s jump from traditional country, to country-pop, and finally into pop.


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When you’re pretttttty sure that if you were a man, you’d be the man 💅

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Dec 11, 2019 at 2:52pm PST

 

Swift noted the industry has so many different genres, and artists are able to find their own niche and form themselves into it. For Swift, that was storytelling. However, after winning Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammys, Swift said that even as she was at the top of her game — finally achieving the recognition she had dreamed of — something felt like it was missing. When she realized she had no one around her with whom she could share the experience, she also realized she needed to reconstruct what happiness meant on her own terms. A few months after the 2016 Grammy Awards, the infamous Kanye West single, “Famous,” dropped, and along with it came the boatload of drama involving Swift and wife Kim Kardashian West. While the documentary doesn’t place a large focus on this moment in particular, it highlights its effects — as well as the effects of West’s 2009 VMA scandal — on Swift’s psyche, noting that she felt the world had rejected her. This led to her year-long break from being seen in public. Swift also highlighted her need to finally speak up politically during the 2018 mid-term elections. Viewers saw just how complicated it was for her to express support for Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper with a majority of her team, including her father, advising her not to. Swift added that she was always told, “Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks,” referencing their comment about former President George Bush at the start of the Iraq War. Swift also said she was told a “good girl” never pushed her politics on anyone. Her sexual assault case, stemming from the Red era, encouraged Swift to speak out about her stance on the United States politics. After winning the case, Swift said, “Next time there is any opportunity to change anything, you had better know what you stand for and what you want to say.”


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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 7, 2018 at 4:33pm PDT

 

Ultimately, Swift was tired of being told not to stick her head into politics and wanted to be on the right side of history.

The 85-minute documentary conveys emotions of fear, love, anger, success — and most importantly, freedom, illustrating Swift’s growth beyond her artistry. Catch the documentary on Netflix now, and let us know your favorite moment by leaving a comment down below or by tweeting us @soundigest.

Featured Image: Instagram (@taylorswift)

Amrutha Satti

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