Taylor Swift is “Miss Americana”


Promotional poster for Netflix’s “Miss Americana”

Fiona Roach

Taylor Swift. A name you probably know well. A name you have most likely heard on the radio, in the news, or in discussions between friends. But how much do you really know about Taylor Swift? The new Netflix documentary Miss Americana gives insight into her life of stardom.

Since her rise to fame in 2006, country turned pop star Taylor Swift has constantly been in the spotlight, surrounded by either adoring praise or hateful criticism. The Netflix documentary film “Miss Americana” reveals both the challenges and the rewards of Swift’s life in the spotlight. 

The film begins with an interview of Swift, one of the many that comes up throughout the movie. Here she describes how, for most of her life, she had a “need to be thought of as good” and she was “trained to be happy when you get a lot of praise.”

This is a theme that is repeated a lot as the film delves deeper into how Swift’s insecurities shaped her as an early artist. In one particularly poignant scene, Swift is shown on a call with her publicist when she hears that she was not nominated for the 2018 Grammy Awards. “I just need to make a better record. I’m making a better record,” says Swift. 

This scene was especially effective in revealing Swift’s humanity, allowing fans to connect with Swift more than ever before. Senior Ailee Hogan notes, “I feel like I learned so much about her that I didn’t know, and I respect her a lot now as an artist and a person.” 

The film did not hesitate to convey Swift’s struggles, and one major issue discussed was Swift’s battle with body image and eating disorders. An interview reveals that Swift has struggled with her body image since she became famous, and the film pairs this with clips of paparazzi and screaming fans waiting for Swift when she gets off a plane, gets into a car, or tries to leave her house at any time. 

Swift explains that when you’re always in the spotlight, “there’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting.” It certainly doesn’t help when criticism is constantly coming from the media, as the documentary reveals with news clips of critics saying Swift is “annoying,” “too skinny,” and “going through guys like a train.”

Particularly on Twitter, Swift has received a lot of hate over the past few years. Swift explains, “#TaylorSwiftIsOverParty was the number one trending topic on Twitter worldwide. Do you know how many people have to be tweeting that they hate you for that to happen?”

By combining Swift’s interviews and daily life with clips of home videos, performances, awards shows, and news, Miss Americana is able to represent Swift in the truest light possible. 

Sophomore Natalie Rozmus says, “I liked how the movie used many different types of videos because it kept it interesting and made it unique to other things you see about Taylor in the media.”

This method was particularly effective to display Swift’s break into the political scene. Swift explains how she never really expressed her political views before because her team encouraged her not to. However, for the 2018 midterm elections, Swift believed she needed to break this habit.

“I wanna love glitter and also stand up for the double standards that exist in our society. I wanna like the color pink and also tell you how I feel about politics,” Swift explains, “And I don’t think those things have to cancel out.” After posting to Instagram and encouraging her fans to vote in the elections, there were more voter registrations within one day than in the past year. 

Swift’s team was hesitant about this because Swift was always told, “Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks.” Through news footage and performance clips, the documentary reveals how after making a politically charged comment at a concert, the Dixie Chicks faced international backlash and hate, being told they should “just shut up and sing.” But this didn’t stop Swift from standing up for what she believes in.

On her most recent album “Lover”, Swift released a song called “Soon You’ll Get Better,” featuring none other than the Dixie Chicks.

Lastly, Miss Americana gives insight into Swift’s songwriting process, and is even accompanied by a featured single called “Only the Young.” This is probably the most intriguing part of the film, as Swift’s musical genius is showcased and fans are able to see how her songs develop from her first ideas into what is released on the album. 

Swift explains how she likes the art of storytelling through song, and especially when it allows her to connect with her fans. “There’s a certain element to my fanbase where we feel like we grew up together,” she states. Miss Americana certainly captures this sentiment, establishing an even deeper connection between Swift and her fans than ever before. 

Miss Americana can be found on Netflix and the featured single “Only the Young” is on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.