I love Taylor Swift.
I love her music, I love the way she snuck into the void Madonna left behind while none of us were looking because ten other pop stars were vying for the spot (She is not as good as Madonna, I haven’t completely lost my mind), I love that she’s in control of her image as much as she possibly can be. I love that I grew up with her (Taylor is two years younger than I am, but I’ve always been a late bloomer and she’s kind of a old soul.)
All that said, I don’t know if Miss Americana is a good documentary. Taylor is an vulnerable as she can be, I think, but she’s had walls up for so long, and she seems to be doing the hard slow work of taking them down rather than letting them crash, figuring out which ones are useful and which ones are limiting. That’s probably healthier but not nearly as much fun.
The movie builds a complicated picture of a woman is who is just starting to realize who she is, she notes that she’d been frozen at the age she got famous (16) and had a lot of catching up to do. Which is why her devastation that her political stand in 2018 wasn’t enough reads as sincere rather than ego. She was 27, but closer to 18 in maturity and you think your voice can really change the world then, and to be fair, Taylor Swift actually might be able to move the needle. (Apparently after she started insisting on voting young registration in Tennessee went up like 16% or something).
The film really shines when they show Taylor writing music, and working on music. Chowing down on burritos with her producer, giggling with Brandon Urie in dorky icon perfection, shouting to Jack Antonoff that she forgot the words to “Endgame.” She’s herself in that work, and it’s stunning to see.
I really enjoyed this documentary, but as I mentioned up top, I love Taylor Swift. I’d be curious what someone who either actively dislikes her or is indifferent to her and what they’d think. I think it’s just partly having tracked her life for so long that nothing really blew me away. The eating disorder confession is probably the only new information, but even that I got, “Oh yeah, that tracks.” Also her 2016 sit out was mental health related, apparently. After her final dust up with Kim and Kanye she realized her relationship with the media and the public was toxic and she needed to reset, which is marginally interesting.
Also, you remember the curls and the cat eye makeup? That was a whole thing for a while and I’m really glad she moved on style wise because OOF. (I spent HOURS trying to get my hair to do those curls though.) I also totally spent the rest of the weekend listening to Taylor Swift and watched The Reputation concert again.