2020 Netflix documentaries on female star singers

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[PHOTO COURTESY OF UNSPLASH]

Sharon L. ('22)

“Taylor Swift: Miss Americana”

Rating: 4 stars 

Taylor Swift is a name all of us are familiar with. One of the most successful and popular artists of this decade, she has won 10 Grammys, 29 American Music Awards and has broken countless sales records over her career. 

However, beyond her music career, Taylor Swift did not disclose her political beliefs until late 2018, when she endorsed Phil Bredesen, the Democratic candidate for Senate in her home state of Tennessee. 

Since then, she has spoken up about various political issues. Her song, “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” released in 2019 in her album “Lover,” expressed her disillusionment over the current state of US politics.  

A continuation of her political awakening and an intimate look into Taylor Swift’s personal life, the highly anticipated documentary “Miss Americana” was released on Netflix this year. The film was directed by American filmmaker Lana Wilson, and it features many of Taylor Swift’s most successful and controversial moments. 

In the film, Taylor Swift opens up about her struggles, and how she learned to cope and overcome various pressures and issues. 

Some key highlights of the film include the scandal with Kanye West in 2009, her sexual assault case in 2013, as well as her ongoing public struggles with body image. 

The documentary shows Taylor Swift’s growth over the years, and how she has succeeded in finding her true self, no longer equating other people’s praises or criticisms to her self-worth. 

The topics that were brought up in this documentary are relatable to students in our community as well as recent events around the world. 

By sharing her journey and speaking out for what she believes is right, Taylor Swift serves as a role model for her large fanbase, inspiring people of all ages to use their voice for change. 

The documentary also shows some of her happiest moments, and her rise to fame starting from her teenage years, including clips from the early years of her music career prior to her rise in popularity.

The music production of her album “Lover,” was also featured in the film,  allowing viewers to get a deeper look at how she produces and writes her songs. 

“Miss Americana” gives viewers a raw, realistic and emotionally revealing look into Taylor Swift’s personal life. It allows viewers to understand her on a deeper level and brings up many meaningful and relevant topics that should be discussed in today’s society. 

“Blackpink: Light Up the Sky”

By: Lana L. (‘22) 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Following its debut with an immediate hit, Blackpink has only risen in popularity. It is now the most loved Korean girl group in the world, a group which made history as the first Korean girl group to perform at Coachella in 2019.

Some ridicule the somewhat insane fans of modern K-pop groups, some of whom go as far as begging their idols to marry them, and make fun of the stereotypes about the homogeneity of the group members’ appearances. I had likewise grown averse to many K-pop groups as I watched TV shows featuring newly debuted indistinguishable idols — every one with a pale face and blade-sharp nose — and mindlessly agreed with my friends, who find them “gross.” 

Pushing back my antagonism towards K-pop groups, I fought my temptations to exit the film in its first few moments and continued watching it until I found myself immersed, finding empathy and respect towards Blackpink and to thousands of other K-pop groups that I had overlooked in the past. 

“BLACKPINK: Light up the sky” is a documentary about the sensational hit of Blackpink, directed by Caroline Suh. She sheds light to the personalities and backgrounds of each individual of the group and humanizes the barbie-like girls, spotlighted on grand stages. 

The film focuses on the girls’ pre-debut years, including their years as trainees — under the abusive system to generate stars — that are as long as six years. One by one, the members sit in front of the camera to narrate their story and confess their feelings about their unconventional childhood; their emotional vulnerability is unconcealable as they disclose their struggles with the pressure to succeed, body images and hate comments. In the end, the viewer is left with sincere sympathy and respect for the girls who have survived in the ultra-competitive industry. 

Their interviews are separated by archival footage of the girls in their years as trainees that dramatize the price of their current popularity. 

The members cycle through different languages throughout the film: three of its members, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa, are fluent English speakers, being born and or raised abroad, with Lisa even speaking Thai when she recounts her childhood. 

Ultimately, the documentary aims to unveil the members’ relatable human side under their charismatic personas. As K-pop continues to become accepted into mainstream culture, “BLACKPINK: Light up the Sky” offers a comprehensive introduction and a compelling story to newcomers but also new, exclusive clips for old fans who voraciously consume media content about their idols.