Subject: Miley Ray Cyrus, 17-year-old American actress
Date of Assessment: April 2, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Spirited, energetic, cute, everygirl
Negative Buzzwords: Spoiled, ungrateful, Heigl-esque, one-note wonder
The Case: For a singer/actress who has never taken a single singing or acting lesson, Miley Cyrus (born Destiny Ray Cyrus) really lucked out in the tweener career department. Yet, by the very source of Miley Cyrus’ stardom, she has also necessarily confined herself. After all, the incredibly successful “Hannah Montana” Disney Channel show definitely qualifies as a franchise in its own right, which means that the bewigged Miley Cyrus can be seen smiling out from backpacks, lunch boxes, t-shirts, clothing, bedspreads, and whatever else one can imagine on the path of ubiquity. Still, “Hannah Montana” isn’t half bad for a crappy Disney production, and it’s even a wee bit clever (though it seems to go over the lead actress’ own head) in its blatant aping of the nature of pop stardom and illusion of privacy that famous types vow to maintain. And yes, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus really is a contemporary take on the Superman/Clark Kent mythos — a notion that, when previously discussed, was met with scoffs of derision during my review of Hannah Montana: The Movie, which was also surprisingly decent and brought in a tidy $155 million worldwide gross. Still, one isolated (yet admittedly prolonged and remarkably so during all of Cyrus’ teen years) raging commercial success doesn’t mean that the girl has any acting range of which to speak. Cyrus’ portrayal of a superstar alter ego has always been a wholly unconvincing endeavor, but that was part of the “Hannah Montana” any-girl-can-do-this-crap sort of in-joke. It’s a tactic that was engineered to readily encourage impressionable young girls to whine to their own parents that they really need their own ridiculous blonde wig and special karaoke microphone too.
And so, Cyrus has never been required (or even encouraged) to develop said acting range in exchange for remarkable sums of money. In 2008 alone, playing “Hannah Montana” — a task that included shooting 30 episodes of the show, starring in the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds concert movie, and selling a shitload of albums — earned Cyrus a not-so-shabby $25 million. During the entire five years of the show, it’s fairly safe to say that the tween idol has earned over $100 million to essentially play herself. Of course, Cyrus would claim that she’s not really that much like “Miley Stewart,” but c’mon, the similarities — same first name, Tennessee roots, croaky voice, and douchebag “Achy Breaky” father — between the “actress” and the “character” aren’t exactly inconsequential.
Still, it seems no one can tell the most successful Disney princess what to do, for she’s always been told (even after that infamous Annie Leibovitz shoot for Vanity Fair) that she can do no wrong. So, without any acting lessons and only the experience of playing herself and a common tween fantasy version therein, Cyrus has launched herself headfirst into her very own non-Hannah feature film production, The Last Song. At first glance, this project choice seems rather laughable to those of us who are familiar with the schmaltzy, formulaic crap that Nicholas Sparks regularly churns out. Still, this faux-dramatic romance selection was likely intended to launch Cyrus into the same league of Mandy Moore, who also used a Sparks vehicle (A Walk to Remember) to separate herself from the pop princess pack. Unfortunately, the overwhelming critical response thus far has been that The Last Song is showing uncanny shades of Britney Spears’ Crossroads. Not a good sign, folks.
Naturally, recent pop culture history shall be ignored by the Cyrus camp as the young star continues to pull a Katherine Heigl and will reportedly “rejoice” when she no longer has to “grit” her artificially-whitened teeth while donning that totally annoying “Hannah” wig. How easily Cyrus forgets that, not too long ago, the “teenager with the sixty year old smoker’s voice” sold $250 tickets to her own Sweet 16 birthday party and now, ironically, recoils at the thought of herself as a commodity. And, while she’s burning those oh-so-uncool bridges, Cyrus also plans to quit the music business and gamble her entire future on her so-called movie career. Quite frankly, it’s no wonder that Scientists Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013, which is probably a far too generous estimate. I predict an immediate burnout after “Hannah Montana” officially concludes in January 2011.
Prognosis: If Miley Cyrus wishes to continue making ungodly amounts of money in the entertainment business, she must realize that all successful actors must manage themselves as a commodity. Then again, an even more essential step would be to sign up for some acting lessons. Regardless, Cyrus easily possesses enough money to screw up half a dozen future projects and still have money left over for rehab. Then, it will be time for the self-declared, nonexistent “comeback” effort.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.