If you’re like millions of people who saw Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards recently, you’ve probably wondered what the effect of massive success on the music and acting star. Cyrus seems to be
doing everything possible to remake her image in the exact opposite of her squeaky clean mold that Disney and other companies have created for her over the last several years. (A rumor has it that Disney even created a contractual obligation for Cyrus to maintain a certain haircut during her “Hannah Montana” television show.) There’s a sense of someone taking on their first sense of independence, and running with it — the star seemed to be sending the message to the audience that she was not going to live according to the expectations of others anymore, and from the look of it, they got that message loud and clear.
The fact that Cyrus is barely into her 20s should tell you something about how much time she has to develop her career. She has enough to retire at an age when most people are just starting their first real job. And that is a tough position to be in. If she is hoping to push her singing and acting career well into adulthood — as most artists would like to — it may be that she is trying to make her mark now. Think of it a bit like Bob Dylan in 1964, releasing electric music for the first time, when before that point he was primarily known as a folk singer making gentle acoustic music.
Dylan’s idea may have been a bit like what Cyrus’ is. That is to say, maybe Miley Cyrus is trying to avoid becoming a has-been, a relic of the 2000’s who burned out playing inoffensive pop music. If this is the case, Cyrus may be able to shift her career into a different mode by showing herself to be an uncompromising artist. Remember that even the greats of the past — Frank Sinatra for example — were once viewed as essentially music for teenagers, and not serious artists. Sinatra even suffered career failure in his 20’s when his audience grew up and moved on to other things. But he came back to record success when he began allowing his music to mature and his ideas to gain focus. If Cyrus can pull such a move, she may not be remembered as a teeny-bopper, but as a serious artist.