Pop Stars: Boys Are Best and Why That’s Bad

Corporations like Disney are known for giving a younger generation their start with things such as the Mickey Mouse Club that gave singers such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera a boost up into the music industry. Then there are the constant shows such as American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent, all promising to make the winner a rising star. But if it follows the typical pattern of a young rising singer will it really be worth it for these contestants? Each rises to popularity at similar times after leaving their shows and where it becomes interesting is how each of their rises to adulthood was taken by the public.

Conklin’s article “Breaking: Your Sexual Awakening Need Not Involve Terry Richardson” brings up the fact that while Miley Cyrus is trying to show that she is an adult now, not just in age but that she’s trying to break out of the childish view that the world saw her as. Starting as Hannah Montana gave her her start but it also created some issues as well. Starting so young already in the spotlight she was in the habit already of following a path that was laid out for her years before. Smoothed out by previous child stars and singers Conklin points out how the choices and actions that Miley Cyrus is taking to show her adulthood and how mature she is now that she’s all grown up are actually actions that has been paved out because the media empire has the formula down for what will make people react in the way they want.

Picture of Miley Cyrus licking a sledgehammer from her Wrecking Ball music Video.

Miley Cyrus licking a sledgehammer from her Wrecking Ball music Video.

The issue is now it’s an old trick; it’s something that everyone’s seen before. Yes it gets an initial reaction but that dies out so quick there’s a large scrabble to line up things. The “We Can’t Stop” music video, VMA awards show, followed by the “Wrecking Ball” video. Each working to get a reaction out of people and cause an uproar. That’s not saying it didn’t; it was mainly a series of negative or shocked reviews that didn’t last long before people were forgetting about it already. With each successive outrageous act that died out not long after it started. This is beginning to show a boredom with seeing the same process repeated. The reactions are dying out sooner but there is still a large leap to how people have reacted to a male singer’s coming of age time.
The male singer’s coming of age paints a very different picture then the female’s. While for a girl it is heralded with negative reviews ranging from how bad she looks, to how much of a horrible role model she is for everyone’s children. For the other side of the coin you only need to look at how male singers are seen as they grow up.

Justin Beiber showcases a lone male singer’s rise up to stardom. Found at a young age to have talent there was a huge showcase over who would win the ‘right’ to mentor and set him up for a hopefully successful career. This career in the industry blossomed practically overnight and it wasn’t long before he blew everyone out of the water with his popularity. Although his manager wanted to represent him because he felt that Justin was the opposite of most kid star singers and their upbringing it could be argued that many of Justin’s beginning songs still follow the same style and progression that each one of their’s did. These were songs that follow the pop song style that becomes popular and rises up the charts continually. His travels are moving straight on the way to follow the usual male teen pop star, at least when it comes to his career. (Robinson) He is doesn’t something different than the others though. Mainly it’s female singers who feel the need to follow in the footsteps of others before them and act in ways that many perceive as outrageous to show that they are growing up. Instead Bieber has already cemented himself and a grown singer and the public accepts that he is mature. Yet he continues to act out and do and say outrageous things as if to prove something. My theory is that the constant comments about how feminine he is feel like a threat to his masculinity and so he acts out in this way as if to prove his masculinity to everyone. This is the one place where Bieber differs from the rest of the male pop singers when following the typical pattern.

Justin Timberlake is one example of someone who didn’t have a hard time with his transition and ‘growing up’ when it came to his music. He easily slipped from adorable Mickey Mouse Club member and child singer into adorable boy band member of N’sync; where he was seen as an acceptable teen heartthrob for every teenage girl in the 90’s. It wasn’t long into the 2000’s when Justin went solo in 2002 and dropped his boyhood persona on the ground and left it behind. He was no longer in a boy-band as a sweet young teenager, instead he was seen to be a sexy young man who was rising to the occasion and merely taking the next step up to being an adult singer. Yet this is all very reminiscent of steps that the other female artists took such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Miley Cyrus. His fervor brought out by bringing sexy back to the music world has managed to propel him back into the public’s view and it’s worked out well for him.

The only exception between Justin and the female singers is that Justin’s same choices took him to a public acceptance instead of ridicule and shame. There is one thing that makes Justin an enigma when it comes to the male singer’s coming out experience, and that is the length of his career. Time and time again a male singer will start out as a child singing and after their coming of age time their career dies out quickly after that. But Justin Timberlake is an exception to that; he’s managed to continue keeping his career strong and his presence known. (Respers)

What is it about these male singers that make it more acceptable to grow up then girls? Perhaps it is societies take on how girls should perpetually be innocent and yet war with wanting them sexy at the same time. There may not be a clear line that could be drawn but it also doesn’t take much to point out how different we tend to see the two genders when it comes to growing up. Between male and female singer’s coming of age time there is only one difference in what they do during that time that sets them apart and that is their gender. This difference ultimately changes how the performers react to these judgments. The boys revel and blossom in the adoration but many don’t continue a long career in the spot light. Whereas the women fight back by being more sexual and then changing all the time to keep up. This ends up keeping the women in the spotlight for solo careers much longer than most of the men. So the big question is always, who cares?

People should care about this because this will end up sending the message that it’s okay for guys to get more and more sexual when they get older but it’s not okay for girls to do the same. Actually with the way they treat female pop stars that grow up the message sent is practically that it’s bad to be a girl and grow up because you’re doomed to be some slur no matter how hard you try. People should be worried because this will be their daughters they are shaming or else even themselves. These will be family members and friends that will have to go through with this. It affects everyone in some way.

Conklin, Mike. “Breaking: Your Sexual Awakening Need Not Involve Terry Richardson.” Brooklyn Magazine. 10 Apr 2013: Web Article
Respers, Lisa “Justin Timberlake taking full advantage of his ‘Experience’.” CNN Wire. (March 28, 2013 Thursday 1:25 PM EST ): 841 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/11/15.
Robinson, Lisa. “The Kid Just Has It. (Cover Story).” Vanity Fair 606 (2011): 98. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
Taylor, Alex. “Why the Miley Cyrus transformation to Wrecking Ball level should be celebrated.” Independent Voices. 13 Sep 2013: Web Article
Weiner, Jonah “Leading Man, Miles Beyond The Boy Band.” The New York Times. (July 17, 2011 Sunday ): 1877 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/11/15.

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