Disclaimer: I am back from a year of auto-posts following a medical procedure for a leukemia relapse. I am thrilled to be back writing new content and will be posting more about the whole year soon. For now I’m writing about something that is super current and relevant to me.
I watched Miss Americana on Netflix twice tonight. First, out of boredom and because I am a sponge for memoir, documentary, autobiography and biographies, particularly from musicians which is an otherwise so behind-the-scenes industry, specifically with Taylor Swift. I watched it a second time because I was so impressed with Taylor and the tone of the film when my boyfriend got home from work. I wasn’t planning on doing research for what I’m writing here and doing completely an opinion piece but as I searched for a feature photo I glimpsed the headline of an article that didn’t sit right with me.
Here’s a quote from the article:
“She has hired out her voice to be employed for political purposes, corrupting the purity of her art. […] Great art is a wellspring of meaning. It doesn’t have an agenda. It certainly doesn’t have a political agenda. Art with a political agenda is hardly art at all. It’s just propaganda.” -www.CCN.com
Did you hear me scoff? The article goes on to “mansplain” (sorry Messamore) that having a debated or in his words a “narrow” view means you can’t make meaningful art. Firstly, Taylor is one of a growing number of artists to speak the values that represent her generation, as many before her have done way more blatantly. Some that come to mind are Beyoncé, Eminem, to name a couple, and actually, the majority of her particular demographic, my demographic, tends to agree with her so I would argue that the view she is pedalling isn’t narrow at all.
On top of that, the best art in my opinion comes from those who speak their unique experiences only to learn that the ideas they perpetuate are widely known and universal. It’s not about how many people can relate to you. It’s about what you stand for and being a voice for those who are otherwise silenced. I found many instances in her documentary when she spoke of things that are important to me and to the those that are important to me (including body image issues, LGBTQ+, women’s and, quite frankly, human rights).
In this coming-of-age documentary I really see Taylor Swift transform her experiences, specifically an incident of sexual assault that she brilliantly turned into a media storm and tactical statement by countersuing her accuser and aggressor of defamation for one dollar–and winning. She has a brilliant PR team and staying quiet on politics for the early part of her career I believe was largely a smart move and probably allowed her to get through to the huge impressionable following she has now. She grew up with a whole era of free thinkers and people are likely listening because she earned their trust first, and didn’t make herself exclusive to any one people. And again, speaking from her experience I believes makes her significantly credible.
We have seen others talk about politics in their own musician’s docu-diaries like Gaga’s Five Foot Two. However Taylor makes direct references to issues that matter to her and affect her directly, and then translates that belief system into her art. Some artists get by from being divisive by keeping politics out of their art. Taylor is not only an artist but now she can proudly tote the name of activist, and is so brave as to mix her personal, political, work, and artistic worlds.
I’m positive she’ll ruffle some feathers in the industry and in her fanbase and now in politics. After all who likes the guy who hangs around the water cooler at your money making mecca and pushes his view about the upcoming election?! He’s uncomfortable to be around, sure, but he begs questions within us that need to be asked. And when it’s coming from the famous-at-sixteen year old girl who got there keeping her mouth shut and is now more famous for chiming in on and continuing a conversation that I have confidence WILL change the future forever? It’s gotta be a blow to a lot of egos.
I think we could learn a lot from Swift’s new song that accompanied the release of the music-doc Only The Young. It’s a youth anthem and I hope will supercede her REPUTATION (yes, I said it) and mobilize generations to come. Taylor, I STAN! Thanks for speaking up and being a voice of the future.