I close the screen of my laptop with gusto. What the hell did I just watch? Sitting there in my bed absolutely spitting, I run into the kitchen to rant to my flatmates. How can a young and accomplished female artist with this much power and influence make THAT documentary? I’m shook to say the very least. So here you have it, a one page ode to why Miss Americana is one of the most problematic documentaries I have seen to date.
I really went into it with an open mind guys. Here I sat, waiting for Taylor to tell her story to me. The old Taylor Swift, the girl who moved from a Christmas Tree farm in Pennsylvania to Nashville to pursue her dream to be a country music star was admirable. She was really authentic, and believable. From her natural curly hair and sparkly guitar, she had a brand, and an image that was wholly hers. I was hoping this film would bring back that Taylor and tell more of the story of her journey and her inspiration. Boy was I wrong!
The film was almost two hours of why we should feel bad for Taylor Swift. Some of her reasoning was very compelling and genuine. Coming forward about her eating disorder and her mother’s battle with cancer was amazing and I applaud her for it. That being said, I wanted to see a documentary empowering young girls, not making the audience feel bad for poor Taylor Swift. Additionally, a whole chunk of information in the film is just incorrect. Taylor Swift is from Pennsylvania, not Tennessee. Instead of dedicating a piece of her documentary to telling us why she loves music, what she hopes to accomplish and what she has learned, she decides to show how politically influential she is. Taylor goes off on how her “home state” of Tennessee is under attack by Republicans. I understand it is upsetting to have a candidate you believe in lose, but to wage a war on the entire Republican party in Tennessee seems misdirected.
Overall, the framing of the documentary was disappointing, destructive, and detrimental. Instead of creating an empowering, inspirational, and strong documentary, Taylor chose to make herself the victim. She has endured so much: sexual assault, name calling, and an eating disorder. Instead of talking about how to fight back and to come out stronger, she chose to point fingers at all the things that have gone wrong in her life. I would have been fine with detailing how everything went wrong if she had then said how she chose to deal with it. Instead she basically just listed off how all these horrible things happened, without showing how she overcame them or how her young fans could overcome their similar problems.
I wanted the story. Not just her failures but her successes and how she sees herself as an artist and a person. The whole film was about how the world has seen Taylor. She never tries to define herself, or share what she wants to be known for. Therefore, I could not help but find it hypocritical of her to stress the world wanted her to be a certain way when she herself did not ever try and tell the world who she really was.
While this might seem a harsh and angry article, I have a point. I hope stars like Taylor Swift will begin to see their self-worth. When women love themselves and fight back against the stress, anger, and unfair treatment they have endured, they strengthen all women. I only wish Taylor would love herself as much as her fans love her. Thus, I will always jam to “Tear Drops On My Guitar”, but I will not be hitting the replay on Miss Americana.