‘Taylor Swift: Miss Americana’ Reveals What She Was Always Afraid to Say

For a woman who has been on a stage since she was a kid and always championed female power like Taylor Swift, one wouldn’t imagine she ever had trouble using her voice. Taylor Swift is human too, and even she struggled with speaking out at times. Her new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, which premiered at Sundance, explores how she gained the courage to speak up.

Taylor Swift 101

If you’ve never listened to Taylor Swift’s music, Miss Americana covers the Cliff Notes. She’s so famous that most viewers will probably remember the key points Miss America covers. It begins with Swift’s teenage country music career. Kanye West interrupts her meteoric rise at the MTV Video Music Awards. The film covers her lawsuit against DJ David Mueller, where the jury ruled in her favor that Mueller had groped her.

Taylor Swift at Sundance
Taylor Swift | Mat Hayward/GC Images

You may have heard these stories before, but the difference is Miss Americana gives context to those headlines from the inside. Taylor Swift is a person. Whether you like her music or not, she’s not some commodity to be traded around casually by the hosts of The View or tabloid magazines and websites. When you tweet #TaylorSwiftisOverParty there is a human being who sees that. 

So Swift gets really emotional revealing how these incidents affected her. She opens up about having an eating disorder. Mainly, she recognizes that she her driving force had been for others to like her and recognize she was a good person. She did achieve that, but when the public turned, she realized she needed to find something she could control.

Taylor Swift never talked about this before

When Taylor Swift started out, the Dixie Chicks made an anti-George W. Bush comment at a concert and received death threats. That spooked Swift out of ever talking about politics. Swift’s desire to make people happy and have them believe she is a good person led her to avoid any potentially touchy subject, even if she believed in it deeply.

Miss Americana
Taylor Swift | Sundance Institute

So all of the above and more led her to re-evaluate this policy. First there was Kanye West turning the public against her, which got even more vicious when he released a song slamming her. There was her own sexual assault forcing her to fight for justice in court. Then there was a Senate race in her home state of Tennessee that made her feel she had to use her platform to encourage her fans to vote.

It happens to be politics that Taylor Swift decided was her platform, but it could have been anything an individual finds to fulfill themselves. The macro picture that Miss Americana demonstrates is that an artist, or any individual really, has to be serving a greater purpose. Taylor Swift’s hard work and talent paid off, but she would never be fulfilled unless she claimed her own power.

Inside the recording studio

Along this revelatory journey with Taylor Swift, Miss Americana also captures a rare inside look into Swift’s creative process. Filmmaker Lana Wilson captured Swift in the studio recording her Reputation album. You get to see her composing “Lover” and observe her giddy enthusiasm when she finds the chorus. 

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

She plays “Call it What You Want” acoustically, and records the upcoming song “Only the Young.” You also see her eat burritos. Swift gets genuinely emotional, bubbles with happiness and every feeling in between. Miss Americana captures that. It premieres on Netflix Jan. 31.