In honor of the absurdity that is the Bernie Alexander article on AskMen.com entitled 5 Things You Didn't Know About Clay Nation - I thought I would buy Bernie a clue. I can afford it . . . I'm a professional woman - with a good paycheck. So Bernie - if you are going to write an article about the Clay Nation - I've got a few things you might want to include. First and foremost, I'd suggest that you don't use gossip sites that have no basis in reality as your resources. How about actually talking to a Clay Aiken fan for information about Clay Aiken fans? Gosh what a concept. Oh, and Bernie - how hard did you have to look to find a picture of Clay that was less than appealing? I've got a better one for your next article.
So - for you Bernie - I'm revisiting an archived blog from May - all about Real Clay Aiken fans and who we are. If you get to the end of this article, Bernie, I'll be happy to go over the list of 5 Things You Got Wrong About The Clay Nation.
Where did the idea that the majority of Clay Aiken fans are conservative Christians, homophobic, miserable, lonely old women come from? Who created this fantasy that fans of Clay only listened to Barry Manilow (or Liberace) and stopped listening to music until American Idol came on the television? How did this nonsense that Clay fans think he’s the next Pat Boone or Perry Como become the mantra of the media? Is it lazy journalism? One reviewer or reporter writes up his misconception and other writers decide that person must be correct? Do these “journalists” actually speak to fans? Do they filter out anything that doesn’t meet that misconception? Could it possibly be something else that contributes? American Idol created a competition and, although the competition is over and many of the contestants have moved on to successful careers – some fans seem to think it’s important to keep the game going. Why do so many people who dislike Clay Aiken bother analyzing his music, his life, and his motives? Why do people actively work against Clay Aiken by pretending to be Clay fans or ex-Clay fans – spreading the extraordinarily inaccurate vision of Clay Aiken fans to anyone who will listen? It’s a mystery why this misconception is repeated over and over. But for any writer who is actually interested in something more accurate . . . a story that isn’t a rehash of the same old-same old . . . you might want to take a look at some real fans of Clay Aiken.
Amazing – but true . . .what I've found is that the Clay fandom is much more diverse than many others. Is the audience predominately women? Yes. Just as it was at the beginning of the career of many popular artists from Elvis, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. What’s extraordinary is the range of ages. I see youngsters, teenagers and young adults at all his concerts. Unfortunately, the insistence of the media that his fan base is a bunch of old ladies - makes it difficult for young girls and especially young men to admit they are fans. Is a large segment of his audience middle-aged? Without a doubt. About the same age as the audience I saw when I attended Eric Clapton’s concert at Madison Square Garden just last year.
What many of these reviewers and writers miss is who these middle-age women were 30 years ago. Contrary to popular media opinion . . . we didn't grow up from a fungus behind the Wal-Mart counter. Many of us were part of the Woodstock generation. Some of us wore flowers in our hair and danced in the mud that glorious summer of 1969. We were part of the sexual revolution in this country. We marched for civil rights, women's rights, gay rights. We worked for equality in the workplace. We organized marches and protests and sit-ins at campuses across the country. And throughout our generation, some of the best music was born. Why do journalists think we suddenly developed lousy taste? Are they so limited in their own knowledge of music that they cannot recognize where we came from? Our generation had the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Our soul music was Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. Who would have heard of Pink Floyd if it wasn't for us? Or Cream or Blind Faith. Or Led Zeppelin or Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles or Jimi Hendrix. And we didn’t need to listen to only one kind of music to “be cool”. We could mix it up - go from Bob Dylan to Jefferson Airplane to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to the Doors to the Butterfield Blues Band to Donovan to Bruce Springsteen. To dismiss people of our age is to deny the musical and social foundation of our generation.
Were we all hippies and punks and rebels? Of course not. But you’d be surprised how many of us were. What I've found in this fandom is people are drawn to Clay Aiken for all kinds of reasons. And while there are certainly a large number of Christian fans – to leap to an assumption that this means ultra-conservative and homophobic is a leap that is completely unjustified. Extremes exist in every group - but the overriding quality I've found in this fandom is tolerance and generosity. There are many many fans of different religions - or atheist or agnostic - who simply love the voice. There are people who are inspired by his charity and desire to serve . . . but are first and foremost fans of the entertainer. The women (and men) I've met in this fandom are a wonderful representation of the population. . . people whose lives were never empty. They are mothers, daughters, grandparents, fathers and sons, teachers, doctors, secretaries, lawyers, executives, librarians, salespeople, scientists. They didn't turn to Clay to fill an emotional void in their lives - they turned to Clay because he filled a musical need . . . a way to reconnect with a time when music was exciting - when singers had interesting voices, when concerts had energy.
My husband, in his youth, played in a rock and roll band. After he discovered Clay Aiken, he pulled his guitar out and started playing again. When I asked him why he's a fan of Clay's - he said "because Clay makes me feel hopeful". Now -- that's the kind of story I'd like to see the media write.
In honor of age - This blog's quote is: No wise man ever wished to be younger. Jonathan Swift
Oh, and Bernie - here's a brief rundown on your 5 items and the truth behind them.
1. The Clay Nation DID NOT sue anyone. Some anonymous people decided that they wanted to get some press by posting a hoax about Claymates suing the record label. A press release went out days before an anonymous letter was sent to the FTC. Using only first names and no addresses - the FTC was unable to look into the matter - even if they ever thought it had any merit. The fact that no contact information was given is proof enough that no one expected anything to be done. Considering the thousands of Clay fans on the internet - the fact that 9 first names were used to write this bogus complaint should hardly be worth a sentence - much less #1 on The Bernie Alexander List. The fact that a press release was written and sent to the media only shows that a majority of the media is completely unable to participate in rational thinking -- something that shouldn't really be surprising given the amount of nonsense the "media" spews.
2. Clay Nation Made Rush Limbaugh Apologize. Well, probably a few nuts who happen to be Clay Aiken fans contacted Rush Limbaugh. I wouldn't exactly call them Clay Nation -- any more than I consider you and your ridiculous article representative of real men. Surely within a fan base - there are always a few nuts. Here's an example of some at a sporting event - not sure if they are readers of AskMen. What do you think?
3. Clay Nation demanded a bridge be named after Clay - sorry Bernie is this supposed to be something scandalous? There was some joking around with Clay and the Governor and some fans decided to put up a petition. Am I supposed to be horrified at this? Sorry - I'm much more horrified at the price of gas.
4. Clay Nation bombarded his alleged lover with threats. Well at least you used the word "alleged" - but here's a question for you Bernie? Did you ask the police about Mr. Paulus's claims of harrassment? His incessent whining about losing his job because of the big bad Claymates? Or did it just fit your article better to write this crap without seeing if any of it held any merit. Oh and the apology? Did you buy that one as well? Bernie, Bernie, Bernie . . . you're really not a very discerning man are you?
5. Clay Nation planned independent release parties. Oh My God! Did they really do that? Oh My God! That's nuts. That's crazy. That's insane. Thousands of fans from the US, Canada and Asia actually got together to eat, drink and mingle and buy a Clay Aiken CD! I've never heard of anything so scandalous. Really. Those fans should be taken out and shot for doing such an insane thing. Do the fans of Bradley Walker know this? They had a CD Release party for his first CD. Of course, Walker's CD was produced by a Grammy winner, Carl Jackson. Maybe that's why it's not so damn silly as Clay Nation having a party. Jackie Ryan - well she's a jazz vocalist so maybe that's why her CD release party wasn't so silly. Greg Smith too. But I guess in the musical world of jazz - people aren't so condescending about what fans choose to do to celebrate artists they like. Bernie if this is the extent of what you can find to make fun of the Clay Nation - you really had better get moving. I'm just not impressed with your rehashing the same old junk. Next time, try to find something interesting to write about - like maybe Clay Aiken.
Addition: Just found a really great website who's mission is meet the unserved need for innovative, topical, relevant and entertaining programming of particular interest to women - Greenstone Media.
Gloria Steinem was recently interviewed in a phone conference by 10 women bloggers - they talked about the state of broadcasting, women and the conversation missing from the radio. Check it out at Greenstone Radio