I Was Wrong About Taylor Swift And I’m Sorry
Not too long ago, I declared that I was done with Taylor Swift.
At the time, I was more than ready to shake her off. But as it turns out, I was wrong.
Over the weekend, I did what millions of other Swifties and Tay-Tay-curious people did and watched the Netflix documentary 'Miss Americana'. And you know what? It opened my eyes and changed my opinions about Taylor as a singer/songwriter, as a celebrity and, most importantly, as a person.
Of course, getting people to change their minds about Swift may have been the point of the film. (And if so, props to the director, Lana Wilson and Swift’s PR team for a job well done.) But regardless of the aim, the fact is, for me at least, the film portrayed her as a much more complex soul than I had previously thought -- someone who just wants to do her best and for people to like her.
And I get that. I totally understand.
Before I spent my Sunday evening glued to the television sticky beaking into Swift’s life, I had viewed her much differently. I was most definitely on board with her adoration of cats and friendship with Ed Sheeran, but I was overly critical and quick to judge her on many other facets of her life.
Back in November, when I made my public declaration, I was Swift-weary. From the Kimye saga to the Scooter Braun/Big Machine feud, she was seemingly smack bang in the centre of so many controversies that I was sure the fault had to be with her.
I began to doubt the one thing she appears to care about the most: her integrity.
But now that the documentary has provided me with an inside look into Swift’s life, I can see how wrong that was. The studio sessions, the exhilarating way she writes her songs, flying on private jets with her mum and cat, painting her own nails backstage at concerts, performing at award shows, the conversations with her family and her team… all of it made me see that Taylor Swift was not the person I thought she was.
Her integrity should never have been questioned.
Miss Americana shows that fame is extremely hard for Swift. She has struggled and continues to struggle with its impact on many areas of her life, especially when it comes to her image.
“My entire moral code is a need to be thought of as good…” she says in the documentary. “And obviously, I’m not a perfect person by any stretch but overall the main thing that I always tried to do was just be a good girl. I became the person who everyone wanted me to be.”
From this, as well as many other glimpses into her life, it is clear that Swift is hyper-conscious of how people view her -- what they may say about her choices, statements, social media posts and music. It is the topic of frequent discussions, the basis of her decisions big and small. From publicly supporting the Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections to the type of facial expressions she used while filming the “ME!” music video, Swift has been guided by her desire for people to see her in a positive light.
She wants what the majority of us do -- the approval of others.
For me, the most gut-wrenching example of this in the film -- and when it really hit home just how wrong I had been about her -- was when she described her lasting memory of Kanye West infamously interrupting her VMA win. It had nothing to do with what he did or said. She was more upset by the fact that the crowd was booing -- and that she thought they were booing her.
“It was so echo-y in there,” she says. “At the time, I didn’t know they were booing him doing that, I thought they were booing me. For someone who has built their whole belief system on getting people to clap for you, the whole crowd booing is a pretty formative experience.”
It’s well known that Swift often uses her own real-life experiences and heartbreaks for the lyrics of her songs. But the candid reflections and comments that she offers up throughout 'Miss Americana' truly break through the untouchable celebrity veneer to show the real-life person underneath, even if it is only for 80 minutes.
These revelations -- along with the film’s depiction of the fallout between Swift and West over his song 'Famous' -- helped me truly understand just how these controversies have affected her. I felt like I ended up knowing who the real Taylor is, flaws and all -- and she became a relatable person. I finally understood what made Taylor tick.
Again, I am sure that the Netflix doco is calculated and curated to a probably very large extent, but what does it matter? It shows Swift in more depth than we have ever seen before. She becomes a new type of celebrity -- one who is open, honest, vulnerable and striving to be her true self under very challenging circumstances.
So, with that in mind, I say, Taylor, you have my respect. And my sincere apology.