Every year during Oscar Award shows mom would sigh over the memorials. "Oh, not so and so!" As a kid I would shake my head. I didn't recognize the faces as the somber music played. It wasn't until I was older that I understood why she was upset. It is hard coming to terms with a role model becoming older.
Fans and parents have been up in arms over Miley Cyrus sticking out her tongue and singing about drugs. When she was younger she portrayed a glittered and blonde superstar named Hannah Montana. Her 'normal' self was a chocolate haired and casually dressed girl. Hannah's hijinks were tame compared to real life shenanigans of younger people in the public eye. Eventually the Disney tween grew up. Yet her fan base seemed reluctant to let go of the old persona.
As most teens do, Cyrus rebelled but her battle was against the typecast. Her hair now shortened and bleached blonde. Lips are painted a sultry color. Her style of music, clothes and dance moves are revealing and raw.
Parents are typical in the resistance of letting their children become adults. In older eyes little ones still have missing teeth, bruised arms and scratched off fake tattoos. Even though Cyrus is not their daughter, she is held up as "America's daughter." Forever fourteen going on fifteen. The pint sized group who grew up watching Cyrus have trouble seeing her as an adult.
Last week I read on Twitter that radio host Casey Kasem was having significant health problems. To my bewilderment, realized Kasem was in his 80's.
As a kid I loved listening to the radio countdown on Sundays to see if my favorite song hit number one. Kasem would read the long distance dedications. He was my radio hero, with his way of invoking empathy through the radio lines. Tears would stain my cheek listening to the person's situation. The beat of each word he spoke had emotion in each syllable. He was my radio hero.
Kasem had a soothing voice . His show was relaxing and hip and cool. I couldn't get over the fact that he was in his 80's. I knew I was getting older by the aches and grey hairs. Foolishly I never contemplated my heroes aging. Just like my mom, I would become saddened when I would hear of of a sudden passing of a personal favorite like Bea Arthur or Don Knotts.
The situation with Cyrus is not different. We remember others in a certain light and it is a hard concept to shake. When people think of child star Macaulay Culkin often the picture of a fuzzy red sweater and hands slapped on the face is envisioned. Culkin is a tad younger than I am now. It is hard to think of him as an adult and struggling actor even though I too am a struggling artist. Cyrus is a talented singer wanting to stay relevant in a main stream society.
Foo Fighters had a song called "My Hero" in the 1990's. The song is about someone the singer looks up to however, it is astonishing to realize the hero with all the bells and whistles of super powers is actually a normal human being.
Cyrus and Kasem are typical people who change and become older in time. It doesn't diminish their influence and accomplishments. Reality diminishes the facade that all heroes remain young and frozen in time. All role models lose their way or change their tunes. If we remember that notion, than we can mature along with our beloved heroes and allow their legacies to live on. More importantly, allow the ones we idolize to develop new talents and accolades. Otherwise we are no different than parents who can't cut the umbilical cord and let their kids go.