I wouldn't consider myself the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world. My daughter loves her and I have taken her to see Taylor in concert so I know my way around an album or two of hers. Her squeaky clean, good-girl schtick is well known and probably admired by quite a few people. But what happens when the country-star turned pop icon grows up and wants to break from the shackles of the image she has created? She makes Miss Americana.
Similar to other A-listers that have opened their doors to the world in the form of a documentary, Taylor Swift let the cameras follow her for a couple of years. Like Lada Gaga with Five Foot Two, or more recently Kevin Hart, these types of docs are designed to highlight the sheer level of commitment and hard work needed to get to the top. And stay there. They are also a stark reminder that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Miss Americana opens with Taylor Swift looking through diaries she wrote when she was just 13 years old. Admitting that even now, as then, her life is guided by the need to be seen as good, is actually a little bit heartbreaking. Do the right thing. Do the good thing. Cut to footage of her as a child starting out on her career and you see how the image she cultivated for herself lasted so long.
But nobody can live in a self-imposed prison of perfection forever and Miss Americana is Taylor Swift's way of breaking free. She talks a lot about the issues she has faced over the years. From near starving herself to be as thin as possible, or the backlash and insults she gets for having dated too many guys, to her inability to even comment on politics for fear of ostracising fans, nothing is off the table. That said, even then she is micro-managed to within an inch of her life. Publicists and management still try to control her and her image and the sit-down meeting about a tweet endorsing a Democratic candidate has to be seen to be believed. Because even now, Taylor Swift can't tweet without permission.
Miss Americana is a very good documentary even if it has been strategically edited to show Taylor in the best light possible. However, despite all her talent, money and fame, I couldn't help but thank my lucky stars that I don't have her life.