When It Comes to Miley Cyrus, Sex Doesn't Sell, Experts Say

Once one of Disney’s most celebrated young stars, Miley Cyrus’ eyebrow-raising behavior lately has some critics saying her transition from child to adult star will not be as simple as the young singer-actress may have hoped.

Since parting ways with her “Hannah Montana” role, the 18-year-old has racked up nine tattoos, has been photographed smoking and smoking from a salvia-filled bong and has come under increasing criticism for her racy outfits.

According to one expert, the backlash from her critics is evidence that the world is not ready to accept a serious, grown-up Miley, despite her aggressive push to portray herself as one.

““Few entertainers can transition, and Ron Howard did, from lovable child actor in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ to memorable adult actor in ‘Happy Days’ and ‘American Graffiti,’ to award-winning director of ‘Apollo 13,’” Jason Maloni, crisis communication expert at Levick Strategic Communications told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.

“Miley Cyrus should aspire to be on that level and the first step is hard work. Unfortunately, it seems she isn’t far from the path many young adults follow: exploring adulthood; testing the boundaries around them; and flirting with danger through reckless behavior. “

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    Moreover, as she tossed her good-girl image in favor of a sexy bad girl, her album and box office sales suggest she also tossed away much of her fan base.

    “I believe for the young fans who have grown up with her, while she is trying to assert her independence, she is alienating this one-time target audience,” explained Michelle Groover, Public Relations Professor at Georgia Southern University. “With ‘Hannah Montana’ still airing on ABC Saturday mornings, her fans are confused by what they see on the program with what they see on an entertainment website, a magazine they see and/or hear their parents discuss. Many of her fans are too young to understand the difference between the actress as a real person and the role she plays on the show.”

    A rep for Cyrus declined to comment.

    Still, Maloni argues that Cyrus still has time to become as successful as a woman as she was as a child.

    “The road ahead for Miley is to master her craft.  Whether her future lay in music or acting, she needs to be studying at the feet of the best producers and directors there are, and also, watching the older artists and performers around her to learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.

    “At this point, Miley could be a flame, or flame out ,” he added.