[Sundance Review] ‘Miss Americana’ Tries (and Almost Succeeds) to Paint an Honest Portrait of a Pop Star

Four long years ago, Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping was released then immediately forgotten about. The much-adored The Lonely Island (the comedy music group and SNL darlings, comprised of comedians and childhood friends Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer) were back with their first real contribution to film since 2007’s cult hit Hot Rod, but it came and went with barely a murmur. However, in recent years, the film been reevaluated in parts of the film criticism sphere, acknowledging its overlooked status as somewhat of a comedic masterpiece, as well as a scathing take on the music industry, on the cookie-cutter rise and fall narratives that shape most celebrity profiles, and on the inherent insincerity that comes with attempting to craft a realistic portrait of a person whose entire public identity is more of an idea.

Thus, Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping’s legacy entered my mind more than once while watching Miss Americana, the documentary about pop music phenomenon Taylor Swift, and the twists and turns her fast rise to fame endured. It’s the country-turned-pop star’s first public attempt at setting the record straight over a tumultuous past few years, starting with the infamous Kanye West incident at the 2009 VMAs. This event sidewinded into Kanye and Taylor’s public feud; the recorded phone call, the namedrop in Kanye’s song “Famous,” and a new narrative being crafted around the once-perceived innocent and beloved pop star. Maybe she wasn’t as benign as we had thought. What is with her need to victimize herself in all of her songs? And after her vengeful, bad-girl album “Reputation” dropped in 2017, the public seemed to be making their voices clear. They didn’t want Taylor Swift anymore.

Continue reading “[Sundance Review] ‘Miss Americana’ Tries (and Almost Succeeds) to Paint an Honest Portrait of a Pop Star”