Celebrity can be cruel when you get your first taste of it as a teen.
For every Ron Howard or Jodie Foster there are dozens of former teen stars who struggle mightily to transition to an adult career in the arts. Others watch as their professional lives peak before they reach voting age.
The latest headlines swirling around Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake bring these ugly truths to mind. The youthful Bieber can’t keep out of the tabloids lately. His latest news nugget questions why he abruptly left a French hotel room.
Meanwhile, Timberlake is drawing raves both for his ambitious new album and refined sense of style.
Now, Timberlake has a few years on Bieber, and that difference can be massive when it comes to personal development. Both appear eager to cast aside their boyish, squeaky-clean images, though, an arduous task given the fickle nature of fame. They want us to view them as mature artists with something valuable to say, not disposable pop commodities.
It takes time to find your adult voice, whether you’re a teen sensation with millions hanging on your every Tweet or a college graduate heading into the real world. Timberlake transitioned to adulthood with a smart series of film roles, a faith in his own abilities and, most importantly, a sense of restraint.
Given his track record of late it appears to be paying off.
Bieber is just starting on this journey, and so far it looks like he could use some advice from his fellow Justin.
We’re also witnessing the public growing pains of two former teen stars, now appearing in a raunchy new film dubbed Spring Breakers. Former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens don skimpy bikinis for the feature, the latest provocation from director Harmony Korine.
Is it the project needed to shred their wholesome Disney image permanently? Perhaps. What each should remember is that it’s talent, not shock value maneuvers, that will help them endure as mass market entertainers.