In recent years we’ve all seen or heard of numerous Netflix documentaries dedicated to the behind the scenes work of music artists. Taylor Swift is following along with this new trend with “Miss Americana.” The documentary arrives alongside a new single, “Only The Young,” from her latest album, Lover. “Miss Americana’s” purpose is not just to market an album but also to introduce Swift’s reinvention of herself.
Taylor has spent over half of her life in the public eye. The first half of “Miss Americana” is spent recapping on the highlights of her career up to where she is currently. Director Lana Wilson shapes these events into a lead-up to the overall message: There’s a new Taylor Swift in town, and she’s finally willing to follow her own advice and “speak now.”
Taylor began her career presented as the ideal American princess. However, the documentary revisits the moment that defined and changed Taylor for good or for bad: the event where Kanye West barged on stage as she accepted her first MTV award and declared she didn’t deserve it. Taylor was only 19 at the time. In the moments after the interruption, she thought the booing from the crowd was being directed toward her, and it really hit her hard.
“For someone who’s built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience.”
While the documentary spends a good amount of time focusing on Taylor’s upbringing in her career, it also spends a sum of time focusing on recent events in her career and life.
For me, one of the most heartbreaking moments in the documentary occurs when Taylor recaps the moment after she won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2016. She calls the moment her “mountaintop,” the moment when she’d achieved everything she’d ever dreamed of. Taylor shares how the only thing she could think at that moment, “Shouldn’t I have someone that I should call right now?”
Undoubtingly, the most revealing and open part of the documentary deals with Taylor’s relationship with her body.
“I’ve learned over the years it’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day cause I have a tendency to — and it’s only happened a few times and I’m not in any way proud of it,” she begins, “I tend to get triggered by something — whether it’s a picture of me where I feel it looked like my tummy was too big or, like, someone said that I looked pregnant or something — and that will just trigger me to starve a little bit. Just stop eating.”
Taylor reveals that compliments and comments about her body, both positive and negative, drove her to view food in relation to her body size rather than for her health.
“I thought that I was just supposed to feel like I was gonna pass out at the end of a show or in the middle of it. Now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel it,” she explains. “Which is a really good revelation because I’m a lot happier with who I am.”
Taylor also adds: “You don’t ever say to yourself, ‘I have an eating disorder,’ but you know you’re making a list of everything that you put in your mouth that day and you know that’s probably not right, but then again there’s so many diet blogs that tell you that’s what you should do.”
The best part of the documentary comes with seeing the artist behind the music and popstar. Taylor’s main selling part hasn’t ever been her talent as a performer but her talent as a songwriter. The best moments of the entire documentary come when Taylor isn’t performing live or winning awards but rather completely in her element, in her studio, writing music.
“Miss Americana” felt very open and transparent, revealing more about Taylor’s character and giving an insight to her opinion on politics, her body image, the ways criticism affected her, and so many other eye-opening moments in Taylor’s life and career.