Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Movie review: Miss Americana, dir Lana Wilson (2020)

This documentary is worth watching if you want to understand more about youth, and I enjoyed every minute though I don’t go out of my way listen to Taylor Swift’s music. I found out about the movie from a tweet (see below) in the Netflix hashtag stream that impressed me with its ardour.


The movie is more than a docudrama; in fact, its message is universal. Although it’s hard to know how much of the footage is truly candid, at its most basic level – beyond the concert appearances, the prize-givings, the flights in a private jet, and the friendships at the core of Swift’s life – the film shows a person’s coming of age. Swift is shown learning to define herself by something other than what people think.

In the end, she decides to be transparent about her politics, and the movie ends on a high note with the closing credits running over a soundtrack with a song titled ‘Only the Young’. It’s a catchy tune that chimes well with themes explored in the movie, one of which I’ve already mentioned. Though people change as they get older, so it’s not certain that Swift will think the same things in 20 years’ time (if she lives that long) as she does now.

And to be fair old people also run; a friend of mine who is 60, for example, jogs several miles two or three times a week. And if you’re talking about politics, not only do old people run for office but, more importantly, they are also more likely to vote.

While the movie illustrates people’s need to narrate their own existences it suggests that Swift’s success might be seen as a reason for her change of mind. She has over 85 million followers on Twitter, and if that were my tally I wouldn’t be too worried about what people thought of my politics. Swift might also have decided to take a stand following a period of time made difficult by a lawsuit she brought against a man, and the ensuing backlash.

The YouTube generation is posting as many thoughts explaining itself as Donald Trump is, and the hard-working Swift is its spokesperson. Even the title of this movie has a political overtone: the noun’s inflected ending is designed to resemble usage in Latin languages while its substance presumes a patriotic reaction.