Following the recent backlash of young musicians actions, such as Miley Cyrus’ infamous performance at the VMA’s and Justin Bieber’s decision to spit at his fans over a hotel balcony, I decided to write a short article about these issues. I want to also say that I’m not pointing the finger at anyone in this article, merely trying to get people to realise these news stories we read aren’t as simple as “another child star has gone off the rails”.
Is it their own fault?
Are these young singers just acting like spoilt brats? The common belief is that after all this money is being thrown at them and the waves of people have told them “you’re amazing” over and over again, it’s all gone to the youngsters heads. But can you blame them? I’m pretty confident the majority of people would get a big head if they had people telling them they’re number one 24 hours a day, and flocks of fans outside their window screaming their name. I’m not defending certain actions of certain stars, as I believe people do have a moral compass of what right and wrong is, however, I do also think that if the people around them aren’t saying to them “that’s a step too far” how can we expect them to have their own personal limitations? It’s the equivalent of handing a child a permanent marker and saying “go and draw on what you like” and then being surprised when you have pictures scrawled across your bedroom wall.
Is it the record labels fault?
Charlotte Church recently gave a lecture for BBC radio discussing the “sexualisation of women” in the music industry, and she discussed whilst going through the awkward “child singer” to “serious adult artist” phase, one that many singers go through, she was often told by older record label executives that she should “show off more cleavage” as it would increase her record sales and broaden her audience. The fact anyone said this to a young female artist, I find to be shocking and it worries me that this is still going on within record labels today. It is sending a superficial view to young artists that the only way an audience will care about their music is if they show off their bodies. I’m not a naïve individual, and I do realise that a big part of media industries is how people look and portray themselves, but at the same time, a singer as young as 13 should not even be considering showing off their body for more attention, as they are not old enough to understand the consequence of that sort of behaviour.
A perfect example of this is when Britney Spears released the video for “Baby One More Time” she was 17 years old. Although 17 isn’t quite 13, it is still questionable that she was asked to dance around in a school girl outfit, with pigtails, in the music video accompanying the single. Why did no one at the record label say “don’t you think this is a bit much for a young singer?” or “is this really necessary?” as I personally feel that regardless of the video content, the song would have been a huge hit anyway because it had everything 90’s pop audiences wanted, a catchy, cheesy chorus and a beat to dance to.
Is it their guardian’s fault?
When Charlotte Church was being told to show more body, why was there no one close to her, family or otherwise, stepping in and saying “I won’t allow this”? I don’t want to cut down other people’s family dynamic or beliefs, but I do think guardians should hold some responsibility when it comes to their youngsters when they’re being thrown into the public eye. I feel that if they step in sooner, perhaps certain issues could be avoided. For example, if someone close to Miley Cyrus had stepped in when she did nude photos for Vanity Fair in 2008 [at the age of 15] perhaps she wouldn’t be “twerking” and dancing with a transvestite five years later at the VMAs. Interestingly enough, during the Vanity Fair photo-shoot her father [Billy-Rae Cyrus] was present during some of the photos.
Do with that what you will.
What I’m trying to get at is that it’s not simply down to one person’s silly actions. Realistically if you put a camera in the majority of teenagers homes you’d see them doing much the same thing as these child stars are doing, so who are we to point the finger and take the moral high ground?
In a documentary I once watched about Britney Spears there was one unforgettable scene that showed Spears sat on a street floor, crying and surrounded by paparazzi, and she is asking them to leave her alone. I can’t help but feel that if someone close to her, or someone in the record label had put their foot down years earlier perhaps that moment could have been avoided.
If record labels and guardians alike don’t start making a change, and setting boundries for these young stars, there will continue to be broken superstars sat on the street, staring wide eyed at the lens of a camera, begging to be left alone.