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The real reason Miley Cyrus worked a stripper pole Sunday: Kiddie artists gotta grow up



Miley-stripperpole It's been interesting to see the commentary flowing from Miley Cyrus' appearance at the Teen Choice Awards on Sunday. Most of the criticism is centered on a single, jarring image: teen queen Cyrus in short shorts perched atop a long staff sticking out of an ice cream cart looking suspiciously like a stripper pole.

The controversy at hand is a question that has dogged the 16-year-old pop star for a while: When is she going to start acting like a grown up?

Careers for young pop stars have always been a little like sharks; either they keep moving forward, or they die.

But the current quandary Cyrus faces is one confronted by everyone from Annette Funicello to Britney Spears.

Put simply, when can a beautiful young girl step into the sex symbol role expected of grown-up performers without getting flak for being too adult?

Annette-Funicello-PostersAnnetteThe economics at hard are simple. Kiddie pop stars tend to see their audiences get younger as they age and get more popular.

That's because older fans tend to see them as passe after a while, while the younger siblings fall into fandom as a way to join what older kids are doing.

Of course, once the older fans see masses of  young kids on board, they're definitely out the door.

That leaves a budding Vanessa Hudgens or Jonas Brother with one option; debut a revamped, older image to keep pace with older fans and reach out to adults.

Cyrus already dipped a toe in this water with a racy photo shoot for Vanity Fair which drew a surprising amount of criticism for its sexual overtones and inclusion of her dad -- a misguided attempt, I bet, to soften the shock of presenting Hannah Montana as a sex symbol.

Now, she's stepping into a transition Britney, Lindsay Lohan, Christiana Aguilera and Justin Timberlake have made before her -- trying to keep up with an aging audience with a few tentative steps toward hoochy-hood.

Here's hoping -- for her fans' sake -- she makes the transition better than many before her.

Here's the performance that got everyone talking:

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