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‘Miss Americana’ Review: A Powerful Voice on Female Validation

Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest stars of the past decade. A ten-time Grammy winner and the highest paid woman in music of the 2010’s, there is a lot about Swift that many of us cannot relate to. And as a woman who has had her life sprawled all over headlines and documented through her song writing, she’s a celebrity that many of us thought we knew.

However,  Lana Wilson’s long-awaited documentary, Miss Americana, proved us wrong on all accounts.

What we originally thought was going to be a basic commentary on the singer’s life actually turned out to be a coming-of-age story that revealed some of the darkest parts of fame that a woman can face.

The documentary instantly starts off showing one of Swift’s more vulnerable moments, in a scene where she finds out her 2017 album reputation was not nominated for the 2018 Grammy’s. While hardly any of us can relate to such an experience, the undertones of the scene represent Swift’s fear of failure in an industry where they are magnified. This brings us to one of the most important themes displayed in Miss Americana—womanhood in all its complexities and a quest to seek validation.


See also: Why the Taylor Swift Music Ownership Dispute is a Feminist Issue


“A Nice Girl”

Miss Americana shows that amid the successes and downfalls of her career, Swift was in a relentless pursuit of perfection.

The documentary catapults it’s subject matter off Swift being told that “A nice girl doesn’t force her opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. A nice girl doesn’t make people uncomfortable with her views.” Swift explains that she was so obsessed with not getting in trouble that she decided not to do anything anyone could say something about.

As many fans had hoped it would, the film explores the infamous 2009 scandal, where Kanye West interrupted Swift’s VMA acceptance speech. Despite this being a clear case of bullying, where a 30-year-old man tried to delegitimize the success of young woman, Swift automatically concluded that she was the problem. Swift revealed that she thought the crowd was booing her. Not Kanye West.

“For someone who has built their whole belief systems on getting people to clap for you the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience,” she says.

Women in all walks of life can relate to the feeling of being delegitimized, and for Swift to come out with her own experiences (despite being one of the most successful female artists of the decade) is one of the most powerful moments of the documentary.

This incident was a catalyst for many negative experiences for Swift.  Trying to seize back control of how the world saw her by focusing on her body image, Swift fell into an eating disorder which saw her nearly passing out in the middle of shows.


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“The Right Side of History”

However, while Swift learned how to overcome her eating disorder the documentary goes on to show how Swift took back control in a more positive way by breaking her political silence. Despite being told throughout her career to keep her views to herself, Swift decided that it was time to use her platform to stand up for what she believed in. She started by posting on instagram regarding the midterm elections, which saw a spike of 65,000 vote registrations in the first 24 hours of it being posted.

“I am trying to be as educated as possible on how to respect people, on how to de-programme the misogyny in my own brain. There is no such thing as a slut, there is no such thing as a bitch. There is no such thing as someone who is in bossy, there is just a boss,” says Swift,  towards the end of the documentary. And what is more relatable yet, is the fact that Swift is still learning how to deconstruct the misogynistic pressures ingrained in her own brain, as she immediately adds: “Sorry that was a real soap box. Wait why did I say sorry?!”.

Miss Americana does not shy away from uncomfortable subject matters from its descriptions of the harrowing sexual assault trial Swift went through in 2017, to her eating disorder. The documentary shows Swift as a woman seeking validation and showing her own vulnerability, yet demonstrates her ability to bite back and be heard.

Miss Americana is now available to stream on Netflix.

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Why the Taylor Swift Music Ownership Dispute Is A Feminist Issue

Taylor Swift has been barred from performing her own music at the American Music Awards (AMA’s). Here’s why that is not okay.

In June, Swift announced that her six albums, from her debut album Taylor Swift (2008) to her the award-winning reputation (2017), had been sold to talent agent Scooter Braun (who also manages the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber) by record label owner Scott Borchetta.

The singer has now explained that Braun had barred her from performing her own music at the AMA’s. Unless she agrees to some conditions.

The conditions are as follows:

  1. She must promise not to re-record any of her songs, which she had planned to do next year in order to take back control of her masters.
  2. If she stops talking about Braun and Borchetta in interviews.

In Swift’s own words, the message here is “be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

This bullying refers to a universal feminist problem in the music industry today, that until Swift’s recent declaration, not many of us were aware of. Female artists are still being punished for the success they earn.

The Lover singer additionally claimed that she was not given the chance to purchase her own work, but that she had received “incessant, manipulative bullying” at Braun’s hands for many years.

Swift’s previous record label sold her masters to a man that had cyber bullied and exerted control over Swift since the beginning of her career. In Swift’s words they were “controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them.”

This shows that this is not just a mere legal dispute, but a prime example of a woman being stripped of the power to be free of her bullies.

Singer and songwriter Halsey is among those who have backed Swift, saying via social media: “It turns my guts that no matter how much power or success a woman has in life, you are still susceptible to someone coming along and making you feel powerless out of spite. I am standing with her.”

Unfortunately, this is a typical example of what is still going on in many industries across the world. Women with a voice, and a platform to share it, are still being silenced.

Others have come forward voicing their support for Braun, including Justin Bieber, who claim Swift’s social media posts were unfair, stating in an Instagram post: “seems to me like it was to get sympathy.” The likes of Cara Delevingne have accused this as undermining a woman’s valid reactions to an issue.

So, despite many opinions that this matter is a simple legal dispute rather than a feminist one, the heart of the issue remains clear: when are we going to stop telling women to be ‘good little girls and shut up’?

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Political Opinion

Taylor Swift Speaks up about Political Opinion

On Sunday, Taylor Swift endorsed two Democrats, Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, in Tennessee on Sunday via her Instagram account to her 112 million followers, sparking a huge response—both good and bad.

The popstar, 28, had deliberately kept her political opinion close to her chest in the past, telling Time magazine in 2012, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people…And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.”

Beneath a black and white photo of herself, she broke her scrupulous silence on the topic, saying, “In the past I’ve been reluctant to publically voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.

“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.

“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appals and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape.”

View this post on Instagram

I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner took to Twitter to praise the singer’s political opinion, saying, “A big shout out to Taylor Swift for speaking out. You can single handedly change this country. Impress on your fans how critical and powerful their voices are. If you get them to the polls on Nov 6, everything you care about will be protected.”

While Swift’s views have been applauded by many (attracting around 1.6 million likes, including by Chrissy Teigen and Reese Witherspoon), the post also caused much controversy among Republicans.

The president of the conservative group Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, tweeted: “You just endorsed a Democrat in the Tennessee Senate race with a ridiculous statement saying Marsha Blackburn, a woman, is against women. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”

Donald Trump told reporters, “Marsha Blackburn is doing a very good job in Tennessee. She’s leading now substantially, which she should. She’s a tremendous woman. I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about her. Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, okay?”

While Swift’s comments may have the power to sway the political opinion of her fans, her endorsement is no guarantee of a vote. In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was publically supported by superstars Jay Z and Beyoncé in Ohio, but the state still swung in favor of Trump.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault