Taylor Swift reveals her unapologetic reinvention in the Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana”
As I sat on my couch staring at the “Miss Americana” cover art, I wondered what this documentary could teach me about Taylor Swift that I didn’t already know. But even as a fan of 13 years, I was drastically proven wrong.
Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana,” directed by Lana Wilson, is an intimate depiction of Swift’s life. Released on Jan. 31, it shows viewers the catalysts for what turned Swift into an unapologetically determined woman who is done being muzzled.
“My entire moral code, as a kid and now, is a need to be thought of as good,” Swift said while flipping through old diaries dressed in slouchy overalls layered over a pink tee. “It was all I wrote about. It was all I wanted. It was the complete and total belief system I subscribed to as a kid.”
This is the first reveal Swift gives viewers, but arguably the most pivotal. She depicts her past tendency to live for the “pats on the head,” the music industry and the world would give her. But this need evolved into a much more complex ideology of who she crafted herself to be.
“She was expected to be modest, tame, submissive, ever-smiling and entirely predictable,” said a C Net review.
After being labeled as America’s sweetheart, walls were built around Swift, which only served as a confinem, hands over her mouth in the form of unattainable standards and setbacks.
What set the confine on fire with Swift still in it was the 2009 VMA incident with the infamous Kanye West speech of “Imma let you finish, but ––.” This event was the tipping point.
The documentary shows the entire scene from Swift receiving the award with an unbelievable smile to Swift being escorted off stage in a bit of a haze.
“At the time I didn’t know they were booing him doing that –– I thought they were booing me,” Swift said. “For someone who has built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience.”
The Atlantic depicts this situation as a bit of a misunderstanding because of the confusion Swift had, but “perception is reality.”
This perception pushed Swift to prove herself worthy of being in the music industry. With the release of 1989, magazine headlines confirmed, “Taylor Swift is the music industry.” But a higher rank only increases the need to live up to higher standards, as anything lower would be deemed unsatisfactory.
Amidst the discouragement and pressures of living up to the standards Swift and the world created for her, the documentary hones in on Swift’s “favorite person,” her mom Andrea.
A smiling Swift and her mom laugh while aboard a plane about the Great Dane her mom bought as her cancer dog. According to the documentary, Andrea was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and it shifted Swift’s mentality of the impossible standards and good girl labels placed upon her.
“It woke me up from this –– this life where I used to sweat all these things,” Swift said. “Do you really care if the internet doesn’t like you today if your mom’s sick from her chemo?”
But when the world’s eyes are fixed upon you, and when Swift began to feel the pressure of becoming everything everyone wanted her to be, a downfall was bound to occur.
Walking out of her Tribeca penthouse, some 200 fans await her five second exit. She hops into her car, where she reveals a daunting truth about her past eating disorder. She explains that statements and self-produced thoughts would propel her into states of starvation.
Swift said this mentality derived from pleasing others.
“There’s always a standard of beauty that you’re not meeting,” said Swift. “If you’re thin enough, then you don’t have that [figure] that everyone wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have [it], then your stomach isn’t flat enough.”
The scrutiny continues when a reel of news reports and talk shows appear on the screen. Statements such as, “She’s too skinny. It bothers me,” “Taylor Swift Isn’t Like Other Celebrities, She’s Worse,” and a clip of thousands of fans at a West concert chanting “[expletive] Taylor Swift,” are played back to back.
For someone who has been labeled as a good person, being stripped from that title can feel like the end. After the world fell out of love with her, Swift physically disappeared for a year.
During that time frame of absence, Swift revealed she found someone who caused her to find happiness in a new form. This happiness was no longer rooted in the approval of others, but on her own terms.
This epiphany of living for herself sparked what many are calling Swift’s reinvention. Her first move since this radical character shift was taking a sexual assault trial to court. She was done being America’s sweetheart who smiled and was polite; she was standing up for herself and all other victims.
Not only was this important for increasing awareness of sexual assault, it also caused her to be “completely and unchangeably different,” according to Swift.
One of Swift’s biggest changes followed shortly after –– her decision to break her political silence.
A scene with some of Swift’s management, including her father Scott Swift and mother Andrea Swift, can be seen discussing the heavy topic of Swift speaking out about politics. Specifically, the issue dealt with the midterm election between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen.
Her father proposed a hypothetical headline, “Taylor Swift comes out against Trump,” which an unashamed Swift strongly replied, “I don’t care if they write that!”
It’s a newfound Swift who is determined to stop living for the public eye and start living for who she intrinsically is. To no one’s surprise, the following scene shows a courageous Swift clinking wine glasses with her mother and publicist, Tree Paine, as she breaks her political silence upon all her social media platforms.
“I want to love glitter and also stand up for the double standards that exist in our society,” Swift said. “I want to wear pink and tell you how I feel about politics –– and I don’t think those things have to cancel each other out.”
From the beginning of Swift’s boxing as America’s sweetheart to the world falling out of love with her, Swift was being molded into the best version of herself –– she just didn’t know it. But with revelation on her side, she now knows exactly who she wants to be, and it doesn’t include being passive or silent.
“I feel really good not being muzzled anymore,” Swift said. “And it was my own doing.”