Miss Americana: Taylor Swift’s Political and Musical Journey
This eye-opening film begins with Taylor Swift looking through her old diaries and songwriting books, immediately declaring to the audience that this film will expose Swift’s secrets, both personal and musical. Swift reminisces over the quill pens she use to write with and shows her nerdy side with excitement over her “glass quill with an inkjet”. Through all the controversy that we’ve seen Swift go through, the world began to ignore her talent. However, this film begins by bringing us back to Swift’s humble beginnings, of writing songs when she was just 13, a girl with stars in her eyes. The film engages you with home videos from Taylor Swift receiving her first guitar on Christmas morning, to Tim McGraw hitting number 60 on the Billboard charts.
This biographical documentary depicts Swift’s musical journey from country star to pop icon, while also showing the creation of her new mature masterpiece, Lover. What stood out for me specifically was the clear artistry behind Swift and Joel Little’s song producing process. The film not only showed how Lover was created as an apologia for Swift’s lack of political activism but significantly exposed her talent for songwriting and for making hit-worthy music. Swift is not seen writing in a flashy music studio with a big production company. Lover is instead created with just Joel Little beside her, with Taylor Swift wearing joggers and a baggy t-shirt. Indeed, the studios Swift and Little write in (Electric Lady Studios) were designed to be relaxing to encourage artists’ creativity, and most famously that of Jimmy Hendrix. Swift, unlike many big artists, isn’t hiding behind a glass screen singing into giant microphones and letting big producers do the work for her, she is part of the entire creative process. We even get to see how Swift comes up with the music video for ‘Me!’, which won three awards for Best Video (MTV Europe Music Awards), Best Visual Effects (MTV Video Music Awards), and Best Female International Artist Video (MTV Video Music Awards).
Additionally, the release of this film was coupled with the release of Taylor Swift’s single ‘Only The Young’, and much like the film, it expresses Swift’s opinion on the current political climate and her place in it. We see in the film how it was Swift’s court case against David Mueller that produced this fire in her to speak up, not only for herself but also politically. However, it is Taylor Swift’s disappointment over the result of the Tennessee midterm elections, and her want to no longer be silenced by men in her life, that fortified the power song ‘Only The Young’. This song powerfully declares that Swift and any other young individual should never let their voice be silenced, because it is the young that are most affected by this political climate, and therefore only the young can understand the struggle and must be the ones to continue to advocate change. Though the young may have been “outnumbered, this time”, and may be disheartened by a bad election result, or problematic legislation, Swift tells us that this song is “basically saying resist”. Telling us to keep resisting, because social movements are gradual, and change will only come about if the young persist in making their voices heard.
No matter your opinion on Swift this is an astonishing film, that explores how female celebrities are controlled and silenced. It truly shows how passionate Swift is about human rights, and her impassioned need to use her influential voice for social and political reform. Therefore, this film will undoubtedly give anyone newfound respect for Taylor Swift, not only for her artistry but for how unfairly she has been treated over the years.
Header Image Credit: Pitchfork