Miley Cyrus just pulled off a good stunt. The world’s media will probably record it as a great stunt. Her recent behavior on stage has garnered more publicity from a single concert than most people will garner in their lifetime. Getting your 15 minutes of fame is not so difficult, Andy Warhol. Keeping yourself famous is nearly impossible.
Most famous people disappear into a life of anonymity. And they should.
A great song may last forever but the artwork outlives the artist. Without constant forays into newsworthy behavior, singers, actors and other artistes are superseded by the newest act.
This is the sociological evolution of fame. For some careers, constant attention from the press is an irrelevance. Even a burden. For others, their empire, wealth, identity and brand viability necessitates regular splashes of attention. Miley Cyrus has been photographed more than most people but many of these pretty pictures are none too great for building fame. Riding a bicycle, sitting next to Mickey Mouse on her 16th birthday, smiling innocently as she looks up to heaven. We love them for a moment but we forget them in a second. Longevity comes from drama and shock value.
Becoming famous is difficult. Staying famous is not easy. YouTube might just start you on the road to fame. TV talent shows are a great step into publicity, although the competition is wondrously high and there’s a quantity of great performers out there. To be famous, you need to be good looking and have a skill. You also need a platform to build your brand. A famous and wealthy family is a bonus. And always, infamy is just around the corner. No self respecting star will settle for that.
On January 20th 1982, Ozzy Osbourne was performing with his band, Black Sabbath. The date is long forgotten but it was during that concert that he bit the head of a bat. Arguably, he had thought it was a rubber bat. It wasn’t. The real bat was decapitated and the vulgar image repulsed many a supporter, journalist and presumably family members besides. What was the outcome of this publicity? Osbourne’s fame and album sales increased exponentially and Ozzy Osbourne became known as one of the essential rock and roll stars. Today, he retains his iconic status and is one of the wealthiest people in England with a net worth estimated, by the UK’s Sunday Times Rich List, to be worth in excess of $100million. It was a good stunt.
On July 27th, 1983 the first album was released by Madonna. Named simply, “Madonna” the album was fun but not outrageous. This was not indicative of the career she went on to enjoy. From lesbian kissing, to unorthodox baby adoption, from representing Evita Peron, to presenting herself as a sex icon at 53, from dating and marrying a slew of famous and not so famous men, to obsessing about the Jewish spiritual world of Kabbalah, Madonna has come to turns with the source of fame. She knows what to do; welcome scandal, create shockwaves and never look back.
The Times releases an annual list of the 100 most influential people and this year’s catalog of inventors, sportsmen, politicians and actors is an impressive collection. What makes these icons worthy of inclusion? Their outrageous beliefs, charisma, individuality and charm along with their essential skills. Politicians have to spend money on campaign advertising to create their fame and success. A little foray into unconventional sexual escapades can help as well. For performers to achieve success they must use any platform they are offered. Super Bowl concerts and Olympics ceremonies are front and center in the journey but not so commonly available. Instead, the annual MTV Music Awards are the perfect platform. Miley Cyrus knew this and used this. Miley Cyrus, it was a good stunt.
By: Vicky Judah