Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fan Baiting 101

They think they are so smart. HA!

Ex.1 From a review of Clay's friend Ruben Studdard's new CD release:

"But when he sticks to songs that complement his individuality, Studdard has no problem maintaining his position as Idol royalty.

Take that, Claymates."

"Take that, Claymates?" Take what? A favorable comment about Clay's friend Ruben Studdard? Sure, I'll take that, no problem. It's not like it's a knife in the back after all, since Clay and Ruben are friends. The writer's comment is flawed in that there is nothing wrong with what he said about Ruben, therefore there is nothing for the Claymates to "take."

Ex.2 From a music reviewer about to review Clay's friend Ruben Studdard's new CD release:

"WARNING: This column mentions Clay Aiken, and not in a favorable light. So if you're a Clay-mate, you might want to skip to the sports section and read a story about some world-class athlete like Marco Scutaro. The warning is really more for my benefit than for the Clay-mates. Misguided as they may be in regard to their singer, they are undeniably passionate fans. Whenever I write about him, usually in a less-than-flattering manner, I get bombarded with e-mails from irate fans. Nobody sends e-mails like a Clay Aiken fan. But I hope those e-mails will be countered by supporters of other acts in today's new releases column. The top of the class includes Sarah McLachlan, Vince Gill and Diddy. Read on — look for the Aiken reference if you'd like — as I cruise through the latest batch of new records. "

Wow. There are no less than FIVE mentions of Clay and/or "Clay-mates" in this paragraph; and he hasn't even got to the reviews yet. And none of the reviews are for Clay's album either, in fact, the column is not about Clay at all. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, it almost seems as if he is using those Clay mentions to get us to read his article. The article that isn't about Clay. What's up with that?

I'll tell you what's up with that, and the other example as well. These two recent mentions are prime examples of fan baiting, or "Bait the Mates."

What is fan baiting? When a writer makes a random negative comment for the express purpose of garnering a response, and no other reason, that is baiting.

It's also the standard behavior of a bully. Both writers are practically begging for responses from Clay fans. The question is: Why?

Here's why. Power. Control. Because they fancy themselves the puppetmasters and we, when we acknowledge, are their puppets. I'm not a professional writer, but I do know one thing - all writers want to know they are being read. And, most writers want to know they have affected the reader in some way.

(For example, I love when you leave a comment. But, if you don't, that's OK too, because I know from the page views that lots of people are reading. And by the way, thank you!)

Writers who make critical comments about Clay in articles that have nothing to do with him, do it for one reason, and that is to get a response; to push our buttons, yank our chains, and pee in our Cheerios.

Writers for online publications must justify themselves in order to be relevent. One way to do this is to increase web traffic to their page. Did you know that a well known Internet gossip monger used Clay's fans to launch his career? It's true, and here's how - by making derogatory comments about Clay on his gossip site, he incited the Claymates into a fury unlike any ever seen.

The fans stormed his website in order to defend Clay's honor, others showed up just to witness the train wreck; all of which increased web traffic to the point where he could then begin to actually sell advertising space on his site. Before which, he was a struggling blogger, being sued by a legitimate print publication for violating their copyright.

Now he has a widely read gossip site, guests on entertainment TV programs, and is basically a member of the Hollyweird jet set. He actually thanked the Claymates in an interview.

The results of the storming of the site? Nothing. He still makes insulting comments about Clay, and he's richer for it.

Here's the thing; a very wise singer from Raleigh once said he "chooses his battles." I think he knows what he's talking about, so I hereby resolve to follow his lead and do just that, and in doing so, I will be dealing these baiters the very punishment they deserve for their bullying behavior -

I will ignore them.

Trust me, they will hate being ignored. It will hurt them much more than an insulting email from a defensive Claymate. From now on, I'm following Clay's lead. I'm saving the big guns for the real battles, the important ones, not some pissing match with some obscure critic who means nothing to Clay, or to me.

I know it's difficult not to speak to a perceived verbal injustice, but I will consider the source in the future, and preserve my energy for the times when it's truly important to do so, not every time some hipper-than-thou critic randomly tosses Clay's name into the mix like so much loose change.

It seems much easier when I think of Clay's own words...."choose your battles." I will choose more wisely in the future, and both Clay and myself will be better for it.

touchstone (n) a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated

©touchstone 2006


Carolina Clay said...


You have written some excellent blog entries. I appreciate your comments here and in my own blog. Thank you for exposing and gathering these examples in one place.

You can set up a list of other journals through Blogroll. There are links for that service in most of the Clay blogs, i.e., "Powered by BlogRolling" and "Blogroll Me!"

Have a great day!


The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Great blog and so damn true. It's like we've stepped into an alternate universe. Who created the CLAYMATE myth. Some overzealous fans at the beginning? Possibly, AI certainly created an atmosphere of competition. But the "media" is so much more responsible for this endless misconception and yet not one legitimate media person is willing to stand up and say it's a bunch of bull. Popular artists in every field with large fan bases have OTT fans - ain't nothing new to Clay. And one man's nutty behavior is another man's (or woman's) having fun - and why shouldn't they. Someday, somewhere, I dare a media person to actually do some real research and write a real article. In the meantime, I sure appreciate your blog "Debunking The Myth".

Hotforclay said...

Love your blog. Very insightful.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with the writer about ignoring those articles that mentions Clay for the purpose of getting attention to their column to get traffic or hits whatever you call it. I treat them like I treat my dogs when they are behaving badly---- I ignore them.. the only difference is my dogs are smarter than they are and they are (my dogs)not bullys.