"Real" Person vs. Constructed Persona:  Photographic, Verbal, and Live Impressions of Mick Jagger

Paper to be presented at a future meeting of the Southwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association


Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones has himself differentiated between "Mick Jagger" the performer or the character he has created onstage, and his everyday self of "Mick" offstage.  Using online images and writings, impressions from taped concerts and live events, and from brief personal encounters of him in crowds along with interviews conducted for a larger project, this paper will attempt to delineate the differences and similarities between Jagger's public and private personas.

Drawing from the writings of Erving Goffman on presentation of self and role distance (1959; 1963), Mick Jagger's self-presentation is viewed here through the eyes of a fan-scholar, through other fans' and journalists' perceptions, and through Mick Jagger's own words and his "selfies." Going beyond Goffman's ideas of "backstage" and "front stage," this paper examines portrayals within the public domain that showcase different characteristics of the rock singer.  The literature developed by internet researchers on intentions and effects of selfies is employed for clues to authenticity and performances of Jagger within his own photos.  These are contrasted with professional portraits of him or pictures taken by intimates and fans.

Looking at elements of "role embracement" (Goffman, 1963) will show how Mick Jagger acts out a full commitment to his public role of "frontman." How does he represent his sexuality onstage and how does his sexuality come into his life offstage?  How do his own photos and words augment this image or stand opposed to it?  Finally, if there are overlaps between celebrities, non-celebrities, and micro-celebrities (see Senft, 2012; Marwick, 2013), how do self and other portrayals of Mick Jagger mirror issues of self-presentation for us all?