Taylor Swift: Public image vs Public Perception

Now I know Swiftie haters, lovers, admirers and critics.


Taylor Swifts latest venture, ‘Reputation’ is all about just that. An inquisition into how perception and portrayal are two very different things. The phrase everyone is looking for is ‘cognitive dissonance’. The ideas Ms. Swift perpetuates and how they are perceived are two very different things. There is a difference between the person, the image, the brand and the music.

Firstly, what do I mean by ‘Cognitive dissonance’?

Cognitive Dissonance

Image from: wheelofpersuasion.com

This idea has been running around psychology circles for the longest time. Simply put it means:

“The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”

That’s what googles dictionary throws at me.

In my slightly more simplified understanding it’s a concept about holding two opposing views on a single matter. It’s the love-hate relationship you have the things you love and hate both at the same time.

The best example I can think of comes from smoking.


You smoke even though you know it’s bad for you. Sounds stupid right? Knowing something is bad for you but you keep doing it even though it increases your anxiety levels and ruins your future health…but god it lightens your mood and gives you that fix in the moment.

Relating this concept back to Taylor Swift, who, amongst many things is:

  1. a real person
  2. a marketable brand
  3. an artist
  4. a filthy rich business woman
  5. a famous public figure


Love her or hate her, you cannot argue that the Swiftie empire is on the same scale as Jay-Z’s, The Kardashians and dare I even put her up next to ‘The Rolling Stones’. They sell image. They sell their lifestyle, their stories and everything in-between.

You their beloved public?

Goodreads Review

You eat it up. You download their music, you listen to it on Spotify, you stream it on YouTube. Its millions of dollars because it generates hype. The leeches we call tabloids only cater to your tastes.

I have heard so much criticism thrown her way, ‘what a pussy for crying’ because Kanye West dimunitised  her achievements on stage before she got an award,  a bad writer for only writing lovey dovey songs, a sell out for changing her sound to include synthesizers (moving away from the country girl image), a media whore for being a public icon…and dare I say a slut for dating more than one guy in a year (shock, horror!).

By that standard, I should hate anyone who has had eyes for more than one person at a time. Haven’t you ever fancied more than one person in your single days?

Haven’t you felt giddy hanging with someone who wasn’t your significant other?

Maybe you are just projecting your own insecurities on Ms.Swift for taking it in her stride and being what you can’t be (haters gonna hate, AmIRight?).

No idea what their deal is, but she’s cute.

That awkward tall lanky blonde with blue eyes- Hitler’s wet dream and poster child for the Arian race if you will- but, let’s face it, she did not choose her genetics. She writes sappy love songs because that’s just what comes easily to her. Why throw stones at someone for capitalizing on what comes easily to them?


You see: musicians, writers and artists all fall into one umbrella category:


To create is to breathe to some, the Alpha role in my opinion. Not everyone is cut out for it and not everyone’s ideas catch on. Not everyone has the drive for it. The one thing we know about those who can’t is that they love to criticize.

There isn’t anything wrong with it, there is nothing wrong with a bit of privilege to kick start things but don’t for one minute think that privilege leads to success. Then again who am I to speak on their behalf?

You can be born with millions as a Saudi Prince but it still takes balls to have a pet lion and even then, Mr.Saudi prince will still have trouble connecting with a “normal” person…even though he is just that-A normal human person.

So we look at society:

Why do haters who hate on Tay tay, hate her so much?

The weirdest answer I got was the idea that she is “stealing black culture”. Now there is a concept that makes no sense to me- maybe its because I’m not ‘black’ or immersed in that world. All I know about it is that 2Pac got shot, Dr.Dre is some mad dude and Eminem is a white dude in a black world.


Want to know why Elvis Presley was loved and hated by so many? He had a deep voice that people just couldn’t fathom- ‘that white dude sounds like a black dude’.

So what gives me the right to comment on Taylor Swift’s image?3b877191570176902c290e3f0e42a015.jpg

I’m not really a fan (says the dude that went to the concert), I’m not really an admirer (but I love the ideas she perpetuates in her music), I have disliked her (because her public persona did not match her actual persona) but you know what? The real Taylor probably isn’t worth shit as a commodity but the real Taylor Swift does care what you think.

Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) also has dealt with similar issues in his music but I don’t think it hit the right note with everyone.

Hulk Hogan is a brand and a commodity.

He was for the longest time WWE (or WWF’s) poster child. The American dream I am told and all of a sudden he has sex with his best friends wife (while said best friend records it) and now he’s a big no-no. What changed?


Absolutely nothing.

Lance Armstrong.

Mr.Armstrong with his cancer ridden, uni-testicle body wins tour de France a billion times and is stripped of everything for having blood transfusions before a race? Yeah I call bullshit (and he probably used drugs as well).

Next you’ll tell me Marijuana is a performance enhancing drug. Want to know what’s worse? Opioids but we can’t really ban them. Cigarettes are probably the worst and Alcohol fuels more violence but they are perfectly legal.

What I’m trying to say is:

I have had every element of my life hurled shit at as well.

From the way I speak, to the music I like, to the way I swear like a fucking sailor to being a scrawny lil motherfucker who speaks a little too loudly at times, or just too quietly that no one hears a word I say. For not having an ego, to being too egotistical and you want to know a secret? I could not care less.

I didn’t give a shit for about 25 years (well more like 15). Then something changed.

Turns out for me to have my white picket fence I have to give a shit. What I want, my idealized version of happy, it means I have to care what other people think. I have to be sociable and perpetuate the idea of ‘happy’ and ‘successful’. Without it, it’s sad to say, my picket fence is a pipe dream. Desire and drive are not enough to create an outer world that matches my inner world (look, more cognitive dissonance).

So when Taylor Swift starts toying with reputation. I completely understand.


When her lifestyle choices and sensitivity is put to shame yet her ruthless & lucrative business partnership with AT&T is under the same kind of attack… you really have to take a step back and wonder:


The fuck?



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