Lana Wilson (The Departure) created this insightful piece about a young woman, who has been in the spotlight for over ten years reaching the highest heights and plummeting into the lows and it all comes at a certain cost. Usually documentaries about singers are more about a build up to a big show I don’t ever feel the need to reach for them. This one felt different, it made me want to keep watching, even though I only knew a few general facts about Swift and was never really interested in her personal life.
In a skilful way the director guides you through her early career, shows how she climbed to the top and that’s when it gets interesting. She became so good that people felt she was just too good, too nice, too pretty, too hardworking. She talks about how she wants everyone to like her and the applause is what she strives for, what makes all the work she does feel worth it. She’s fully aware that many aspects of her life are not normal, she’s also not trying to make anyone feel sorry for her when the world turns against her during the Kanye drama.
Swift talks not only about her eating disorder and the unrealistic beauty standards set for young women, but how it’s just never enough.
She made headlines across the world during the 2016 election in the US because of a song that was in support of gay rights. Only when watching this documentary I realized why her sudden support for the LGBTQ+ community felt so out of nowhere. It was only that year, that she became political for the first time in her career. Frustration with what her home state representatives stood for and how it reflects badly on the state of Tennessee pushed her to speak about what she went through and what her views are. As a result, this nice girl of no strong opinions, started being political. Not only in terms of gay rights but also when it comes to abortion, violence against women and sexual assaults.
I don't want to spoil all of it, just in case there are people like me, who might be surprised to learn all of this for the first time. What I do want to talk about, is what this film shows about women in the industry. Swift talks not only about her eating disorder and the unrealistic beauty standards set for young women, but also about how it’s just never enough. She makes an interesting observation on the fact, that female artists have to reinvent themselves over and over again, never to be boring but not to be too unfamiliar. However, even if you do that well, your career is still probably going to be over by the time you’re 35.
It’s not a groundbreaking film, it’s a film that asks questions. Should celebrities be political? Why do we judge young women so harshly? How do we fix a system that makes it hard to prove sexual assault with seven witnesses and photos? What about those who don’t have that much evidence? And many more - but you’ll have to find out for yourself.