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“Miss Americana” surprises fans with vulnerability

By Gregory Sams

Taylor Swift is back with her first project of the year. Her Netflix documentary released on Jan. 31, alongside a brand new single titled “Only the Young.” The documentary follows her post “1989” and pre “Reputation” era to the present. It covers sensitive topics in the superstar’s life such as the aggravations of global stardom, her 2016 yearlong disappearance from the public eye, “Reputation” and it’s Grammy snubs, incidents with body issues and self-confidence, her political and religious beliefs, the 2017 sexual assault trial, and her mother’s battle with cancer. It’s a promising documentary full of insight of this pop superstar’s life.

The documentary begins with Swift who at the time is 29 years old playing the piano with the newest addition to her family, Benjamin the cat. It moves into clips of her from each era until the night of one of her shows on the “Reputation Stadium Tour.” This hits her first big topic of how lonely the life of being a global phenomenon can be. Swift shares that “I feel like I should have someone to share her excitement and success with.

Moving forward, we see a more determined Swift.  We get to see more of her song making process as she strives to make a better album, since she learned “Reputation” earned no Grammy nominations from the academy. It’s weird seeing how a favorite among her fan base all of a sudden becomes so discredited to her just because the Recording Academy didn’t recognize it. One of the most impressive things to note from this however is how Swift, alongside Jack Antinoff, created a bridge for a song in less than 20 seconds. It’s interesting to get a taste of what the creative process is in bringing her songs to life.

Following this are more personal moments in Swift’s life. Upon boarding her personal plane with her mother, things get pretty real very fast. Swift brings up that her mother brought her huge dog with them and that it’s the size of a horse. Her mother then responds “it’s my cancer dog. It’s always been on my bucket list to have a big dog, so I did it.” It reminds the audience that even though Swift may have a larger than life world, she still had extremely real issues like all of us.

Continuing through the film we get to what may be the touchiest moment in the film.

In regards to her 2018 sexual assault trial, Swift says: “The first things they say to you in court is, “why didn’t you scream?”  ‘Why didn’t you react quicker?’ “Why didn’t you stand further away from him? Then he has a lawyer that just lies. There were seven people who say this, and we also had a photograph of it. And I was so angry. I was angry that I had to be there. I was angry that this happens to women. I was angry that people are paid to antagonize victims. I was angry that all the details had been twisted. You don’t feel a sense of any victory when you win, because the process is so dehumanizing. This is with seven witness’ and a photo. What happens when you get raped and it’s your word against his?” Swift says responding on her 2018 sexual assault trial.

However, this moment of vulnerability allows for a more powerful message to prevail in the film. When Swift finds her political voice. Despite warnings that this could be a threat to her safety, and that even the president could come after her, Swift didn’t care. She wanted to be vocal and stand for what she thinks is right. Swift wanted and still wants to promote equality.

In regards to finding her political voice Swift says: “She votes against fair pay for women, she votes against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which is just basically protecting us from domestic abuse and stalking, – It’s really basic human rights, and it’s right and wrong at this point. can’t see another commercial and see her disguising these policies behind the words ‘Tennessee Christian values.”

The remainder shows Swift finding her political voice and sharing what she feels the fight for true equality is.

“Miss Americana” is a heart touching tale covering multiple events in Swift’s life after her “1989” era. With heartwarming and heart wrenching moments, it reminds us the despite being a pop superstar gone global phenomenon, that she’s still human and faces a lot of the issues we do. She remained grounded and walks us through all of the hardships she’s had to go through and what has made her who she is today.

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