The Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana is fascinating, and so much more than the concert film I was expecting
The heart of the film is Swift’s 2018 decision to come out publicly against the antediluvian Tennessee Republican candidate Martha Blackburn and, in so doing, coming out of the apolitical female country singer closet she’d been living in her entire career.
The film is also Swift’s rumination, on the brink of turning 30, on gender and fame:
It’s a lot to process because we do exist in this society where women in entertainment are discarded in an elephant graveyard by the time they’re 35.
Everyone’s a shiny new toy for, like, two years.
The female artists that I know of have reinvented themselves twenty times more than the male artists. They have to. Or else you’re out of a job.
Constantly having to reinvent. Constantly finding new facets of yourself that people find to be shiny.
Be new to us.
Be young to us.
But only in a new way, only the way we want.
And reinvent yourself only in a way that we find to be equally comforting but also a challenge for you.
Live out a narrative that we find interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable.
Swift’s The Man explores the same themes, and the film contains compelling scenes of her working out the lyrics for the song.
Like me, my nieces are big Taylor Swift fans. I’m happy that they set on her as a role model; there’s a lot to be learned from who she was, who she’s becoming, and how she’s reflecting on that transformation.