Snow banks and the 28-degree weather in Park City, Utah, didn’t stop armies of fans from coming out to see Taylor Swift tonight, who swarmed the Eccles Theatre for the Sundance world premiere of the Netflix documentary about her life, Miss Americana.
The Lana Wilson-directed doc takes an up close and personal look at the mega superstar as she sheds her “nice girl” image and braves her way to being an advocate for women (her lawsuit against radio DJ David Mueller who allegedly groped her) and LGBTQ supporters. Of particular note, after deciding for a majority of her career to just “smile and wave,” Swift boldly spoke out against Marsha Blackburn who was running for Tennessee’s junior Senator seat during the 2018 mid-term elections on a largely anti-feminist Trump-like platform. Blackburn won despite Swift endorsing two Democrats from her home state. The upside: Swift excited her young female demo who turned out in the polls in other states, and voted Democratic congressmen in.
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There’s a moment in the film where Swift emotionally tells her parents and team that she’s speaking out against Blackburn; this despite the fact that music execs continually advised her to beware the PR mishaps made by the Dixie Chicks when they protested President G.W. Bush and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Taking the stage tonight with Wilson, Swift talked about that scene:
“My dad has always just been terrified about my safety since I was a kid, the fact that my job entails standing on a stage and there’s so many threats we get on a daily basis that nobody ever knows about and we just try to keep that stuff under wraps as much as possible, but my Dad is the one who has to see it. And so for him it was all about ‘What could happen to you if you say this? If you say this, is my daughter in danger? Is this the moment that I should have stopped it from happening?'” said Swift on stage tonight.
She then segued to how her parents stood by her in her grueling trial against Mueller, that being a pivotal moment for the singer to stand up on behalf of those women who’ve been assaulted and stayed silent.
“Our political opinions and our opinions are defined by what happens to us in our life. So that was one of those things that happened to me in my life, and then seeing what was happening in my home state, and it all culminating with having a conversation with people who’ve been so wonderfully supportive of me throughout my entire career, feeling so afraid for my safety. And so it’s really a real moment to watch that,” continued Swift.
“I need to be on the right side of history,” the multiple Grammy winner says in the the film produced by the Oscar-winning team of Morgan Neville and Caitrin Rogers plus Christine O’Malley. “I feel really good about not feeling muzzled anymore, and it was my own doing,” Swift tells the cameras.
After taking the job, Wilson was elated to hear that Swift wasn’t about making “a propaganda” type of documentary. Swift, who never allows cameras in the recording studio over concerns that it will impact her songwriting process, shared how Wilson made her feel at ease.
“Having somebody in the studio when I’m writing is something that I’ve never done before because I didn’t know if it would stop me from coming up with ideas and feeling like I could throw things out. There’s so much ridiculous ad-libbing you do when you’re writing songs; it sounds ridiculous until it sounds all right. A lot of that time, I just always refuse to have any cameras in the studio when I’m writing. I feel like ‘what if I can’t do it?'”
Complimenting Wilson’s talents further, Swift said, “I think one of the things about you is that for so much of my life in the public eye, when I get sad, or upset or humiliated or angry or go through a really horrible time, I feel people really lean in with, like, this hunger. And you never did that to me. And that’s what made me feel OK about feeling sadness, anger, humiliation around you. Because I felt like when I got sad, you did too, so it made all of that all right. It didn’t make feel like ‘Oh, she feels like she got a good part for her movie now’ and I really want to thank you for that.”
Swift has been at Sundance before back in 2012 for Rory Kennedy’s film Ethel. She penned a tune for the HBO documentary about Robert Kennedy’s wife and widow.
Miss Americana hits Netflix on Jan. 31 and has a total of six screenings here in Park City.
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