Friday, November 03, 2006

The Deunification of the Claymates

In union there is strength. -Aesop

Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, I came upon a search engine for blogs. I typed "clay aiken" into the search box. What came back curled my eyelashes.

It was a cacophony of hate speech from rumor mongers and famewhore wannabes; about Clay, the Claymates, Claymaniacs, Claydawgs, etc. - the fans. And in the midst of the mire, there were a few gleaming examples of fine blogging about the adventure that is Clay Aiken.

I was compelled to add my two cents to the fray, because one - most of the blogging was negative in tone and poorly written, and two - I have something to say.

Deciding to delve a little deeper into the fandom than my normal occasional cruising of two or three forums, in order to get up to date with all that was new and exciting in Clay Nation, I began to seek out new blogs and new forums.

Man, that has been an eye opener, to be sure.

I learned a few things. First of all, that Clay is right - there really are some "enthusiastic" fans out there. Second of all, that the Clay Nation remains as diverse as it always was, and finally, that there is a fracture in this fandom.

You know that gossip stuff I mentioned earlier? Most of the fans with which I am acquainted didn't give two hoots about any of that. And neither have I.

However, with the latest CD dropping with what appears to be a fraction of the promotion some fans think it deserves, and the scurrilous gossip still going strong after the better part of a year, it appears there is an undercurrent running throughout Clay Nation that causes some people to recognize all sort of nefarious plots, conspiracies and downright evil schemes to damage Clay's reputation and his career.

Is it real? I don't know. If it is, who are the instigators? I don't know. But I can clearly see the end game, and it could be devastating.

I know how that sounds... paranoid much? However, look at all the things that have recently happened.

We have new, private forums being created which serve as either headquarters for witch hunts or some form of group therapy. Or both. We have groups of vigilante fans seeking "justice," stricter forum membership requirements, fans needing to "step back..."

Some fans have become suspicious of others for not sharing their pessimistic mind set, becoming more intolerant of differing opinions every minute. We have overinvested fans of other artists cyberstalking not just Clay, but Clay's fans as well. There are disparaging comments being flung around about Clay's label, his publicist, his management and even his friends. Previously fun loving fans have become humorless vestiges of their former witty selves. We don't hear Clay on the radio, or see his video on TV.

The Clay Nation is a powerful entity, books about the subject notwithstanding. It remains diverse, and active. But lately, not always productive.

What is in the process of being damaged is the one thread that has always bound the Clay Nation together, made us strong, and made us effective - The Fun!

The excitement of making new friends, traveling the country, learning about technology, becoming empowered, creative, and part of a community; and most of all, experiencing Clay's journey with him as he navigates the adventure that is now his life.

Since the beginning, the diverse groups making up Clay Nation have always coexisted peacefully while maintaining their own identities and continuing to support Clay. Fracturing the fandom by turning fans against each other, removing the element of Fun, and adding the elements of worry, distrust, and frustration, is an effective way of reducing our numbers, diluting our influence and therefore hurting Clay.

In my opinion, right now is the time we should be making every effort to stay united in purpose, tolerant of change and strong in resolve. We need not all share a brain; that would marginalize our identity and, would never happen anyway!

Fans, meaning all those who support and respect Clay, and not the fringe pseudo fans, should try to stand united for him now. It's an important time in Clay's career, and he needs us, now more than ever.

It doesn't matter who the instigators are - the label, the media, the stalkers; we have no control over them. We must engage and utilize the one thing over which we do have control - ourselves, our attitudes, our actions and our support.

Our attitudes - to each other, our actions - to the media and general public, and our support - to Clay.

When you trust someone, you have to accept that there will be things you don't understand.

I don't understand what is happening right now, but I trust Clay.

Always and forever.

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

©touchstone 2006

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