Taylor Swift is one of the biggest artists in the music industry boasting multiple successful albums, sold-out tours and millions upon millions of fans the world over. From the outside, this young lady has everything one could ever ask for but much like many other artists in the industry, the truth is far more poignant and understated. Discussing the media, Kanye West, politics and her cat, Miss Americana takes fans behind the scenes for an eye-opening examination of Taylor Swift’s rise to fame and subsequent issues while at the mountaintop.
Much like other documentary films of its kind, Miss Americana combines archival footage from news reports and rehearsal videos with narration from Taylor herself. Most of the film follows her process in dealing with tough moments in her life and transforming them into heartfelt and beautiful lyrics to use for her albums. Between the Reputation tour shots and dressing up to perform songs are various moments of genius; those lightning in a bottle moments where the lyrics come together and complete a song are by far the best elements of the film. For these alone Miss Americana is worth watching and alongside some of the more painful moments in her life, including her Mother’s cancer and an eating disorder, there’s a raw, emotional center that Taylor Swift exposes for all to see.
Having said that, this is also a documentary the mainstream media will almost certainly dislike. There’s a lot of material about how toxic and damaging the industry is, from twitter hashtags and talk shows through to journalists asking inappropriate questions. All of this leads to the very real problem the entertainment industry faces today. This is taken one step further as Taylor talks politics, with swift digs at the Trump administration and the conservative laws in her home-state. While some will undoubtedly take offence to this, the way this is tied back into her lyrics and music – which typifies a lot of the issues in her life – is clever and enough to look past this without it feeling like a complete dig at one political group.
One of the more important elements of this documentary though comes from Taylor’s attitude toward work. Her sickening work ethic and desire to be the very best is partly the reason she’s done as well as she has. Creating something special, even if many people deem it to simply be commercialized pop, takes a tremendous amount of hard work and grinding that very few people understand. Miss Americana does try to capture some of this though through the studio sessions and seeing these lumps of clay molded into something far more cohesive and structured toward the end is a nice touch, especially seeing these songs performed live infront of so many screaming fans.
Miss Americana is an engrossing, raw, intimate look at one of the world’s biggest pop-stars. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift has achieved more than most in the music industry. With a damning look at American politics, the mainstream media and the unsavory incident involving Kanye West, Miss Americana pulls no punches. However, the way this is tied in with Taylor’s music and lyrics gives the entire documentary much more weight than it otherwise would. It may not go down as the best documentary film of the year, but it’s almost certainly going to be the only one including a cute cat-backpack and important societal themes in the same film.