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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  Writer's Corner - Fan Essays  |  7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
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Author Topic: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere  (Read 1814 times)

Marilyn

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Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« on: July 06, 2004, 08:21:44 PM »   

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In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
By Bonnie Lini Markowski

It’s strange the things that motivate a writer to write. I never know where the muse is hiding waiting to leap into my soul poking at me and prodding me and otherwise haunting me to excavate my feelings like an archeologist uncovering a tomb until I put something down on paper. Sometimes I find her in a person who inspires me, sometimes in an event or a political action. But most of the time, she is usually found in everyday things. Things we tend to ignore. Once, my muse was in the simple, graceful movements of the branches of my Redbud tree, which moved like a dancer.   

Lately, I have been ignoring my muse because she’s in such a negative topic, and I try to stay away from negativity these days. But, she won’t let me rest. She is forcing me to confront the maliciousness hidden behind labels. Like my simple Redbud tree, I tend to ignore labels, but I shouldn’t because they are dangerous. They trap the mind in an unrealistic prison that skews the truth, which is a much broader, more tolerant vision. They are a shortcut for our hatred, our bigotry, our religious intolerance. They are a shortcut for our racism and homophobia They are limiting to those of us who use them as well as those who wear them some being forced to bear them like scarlet letters.

Hate is usually not in my vernacular, but I hate labels. I did in high school when I was supposed to like or dislike students based on a few snobs’ opinions of them. Wouldn’t do it then and won’t do it now. Which brings me, finally, to my point. A small one compared to our world’s great woes, but one that encapsulates the very reason why labels are bad. The reason I have been thinking about labels so much, especially this past year, is because I have had them volleyed at me like balls from an automatic pitching machine.  Never have I had to fight off a negative label as I have since I became a fan of Clay Aiken. And I have to face angry, hostile students at the semester’s end.

There seems to be a palpable dislike of Clay in some arenas and of us, his supporters. More to my point, music critics, or those who believe they are, DJ’s, talk show hosts who need ratings, and others “in the know” about what is “in” and what is “good” have tagged me and my fellow Clay friends with many labels which are clearly meant to diminish us as people and, thereby, diminish our opinions. Recently, we’ve been told we “have bad taste” by some nobody reporter from nowhere, like his opinion matters. We’ve been called, inane, stupid, ridiculous, middle-aged fat unhappy housewives, delusional, useless, soccer moms and my favorite, repressed lesbians  (Yeah. I don’t get that one either) because of our mutual support of Clay Aiken.  It seems what once started out as a cute way to identify Clay fans has turned into an ugly, hurtful label when used by some people outside of Claydom. Now, it seems the term “Claymate” connotes a rabid, ludicrous, raving maniac (well, maybe we are a little rabid. Some of us even Lecherous!). 

I will agree, we can be persistent. During a recent campaign (admittedly an aggressive one but that’s a whole other article!) to try to get the radio stations to increase the airplay of Aiken’s latest single, “Solitaire” we were told things like: “We are sick of you Claymates,” from a Kansas City D.J.  “He’s not popular enough,” from a Las Vegas radio station. “He’s just a game show winner,” from Detroit, I believe, “He has no talent” from my own state of Pennsylvania (sigh), and the one that hurt the most: “you are an embarrassment to Clay Aiken” from the same Kansas City D.J. who is sick of us. I do admit that there are times when I have wondered if our enthusiasm embarrasses Clay. But then I reconcile myself to that fact that if it does, we’ve embarrassed him straight to the top. In fact, he recently trademarked us, I understand.

I’m sure some of us are middle-aged and overweight (I’ll even confess to counting myself in both those categories). When dealing with people in the thousands, statistically, you are bound to have some people who are overweight and middle age, no? Yes, Some of us are mothers and housewives, middle-aged and soccer moms. But are those facts supposed to diminish us and our opinions? How dare you use those terms in a derogatory manner to imply that just because we are those things we don’t know what is good and our opinions are worthless. We are your mothers, your sisters, your wives, and I dare you to look those women with whom you live and work in the eye and tell them that just because they cook your meals, wiped your runny noses, scrubbed got knows what out of your drawers or fetch your coffee that their opinion counts for not. Do that. Then let me know what they say. If you still have a head on your shoulders, I’d be happy to hear their responses.

Part of the reason for our reputation is exactly because we DO know what we like and have no intention of letting “the so-called powers that be” tell us otherwise. We ARE wise enough to know when we like something and want something and when we don’t. We have the confidence to go after what we want because we ARE strong, independent and educated. If we are mean it’s because we don’t like being insulted for our opinions. Do you? I personally am sick to death of being called an old lady.  If we have big mouths it’s because we DARE to tell you what we want, and we are telling you that we are sick to death of the crap being shoved down our throats for whatever covert reasons radio stations have for deluging the airwaves with a handful of songs by certain artists. To quote our man himself, “’don’t pretend that the public are a bunch of idiots! Don’t pretend that you know what they want and they don’t know what they want. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life’” (And you wonder why we love him so!) I was even told by a particularly obnoxious “anti-Clay” person that he is only using us. Well, then, halleluiah, because I have never felt more useful in my life.

No one so publicly maligns the ridiculous sports fans who, with painted chests and bulging beer bellies, act far more ludicrous and obnoxious than we do, and they do it on national TV. Stadiums actually have police stations and courtrooms in them to deal with the extreme fans. To my knowledge, we Clay fans have never gotten violent at a concert (though some of us came pretty close in Dover!) Is it because we are women that we are silly? Or is it because Aiken hasn’t been arrested for drug abuse or for beating his wife? It seems obsession is a right of passage for men who are interested in sports. Jokes are even made about sports widows during particular seasons. But let women obsess over a celebrity, and we’re straight away insane. Could this be the old, tired double standard rearing it’s ugly head again? Maybe some of you are suffering from . . .
Clay envy?

And let’s talk about getting used. This absurd obsession with sports in American culture has lead to outrageous salaries for major sports players and exorbitant ticket prices for fans as well as the tolerance for many, many illegal, immoral and unethical behaviors by sports’ figures. Yet there are fans who, groupie like, follow teams from game to game. I even know a group of men who plan their vacations according to a football team’s schedule.

So, now, let’s start to break down some of those labels targeted at us Clay fans. Let’s talk about how stupid we are. From a personal perspective, Aiken and these women have motivated me to work hard for Autism on my son’s behalf.  I never had the confidence before to make my voice count. But I do now.  In fact, I just shamed my son’s music teacher for not allowing him to participate in band. I gave her my inclusion speech and directed her to The Bubel Aiken Foundation. Later that evening she called me, apologized and told me that she would do whatever she needed to in order for my son to me in the Jr. High School Band. That’s really stupid. Isn’t it?

Let me tell you more about these crazy, inane, ridiculous women. We pray for each other and our families. We support each other in times of need. We support Clay’s foundation. I and many others are members of Project Gonzo, a fan based arm of The Bubel Aiken Foundation. We are philanthropists donating and raising thousands of dollars. We volunteer our time organizing informational events and fundraisers for disabled children. Currently, some of us are taking part in Penny Lane, a grassroots fan initiative to collect pennies for BAF at all of Clay’s upcoming concerts.
 
We are also organizing a yellow ribbon campaign for the 4th of July inspired by Clay’s mom, Faye, to support our troops, her own youngest son having recently embarked on his own life changing journey to becoming a Marine.

Another stupid thing we do is organize CD drives and book drives and donate the effects to children’s hospitals, libraries and schools. One group of silly women “Look What Love Has Done” they called themselves, presented BAF with a $42,000 check and did not stop their.  Two of us lunatics recently raised $6000 for tickets for fans that could not afford BAF’s most recent benefit in Dover, DE. The same is currently going on for Clay’s summer tour. And some fans are currently raising Frequent Flyer miles to be donated to other needy fans. Part of this initiative is also to motivate able-bodied fans to take one disabled or otherwise needy person to a Clay concert. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

After my last two articles supporting Aiken, I was literally overwhelmed with email responses from grateful fans. It seems that my friend and colleague, Dianne Austin (who also writes in support of Aiken) and I, have given a voice to thousands of people who seem to be fighting an uphill battle having to defend their devotion to one Clay Aiken. Most of these respondents felt the need to make two things clear: That they have NEVER supported a celebrity before, and they are intelligent, professional people. So we may call ourselves silly names like Claymates, Claymaniacs, the Clay Nation, Broads, or just plain fans. We call ourselves many other things too, mainly friends. Yes, friends. And of the many, many girls, men and women I have met or chat with on a regular basis, I have found that we are teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, journalists, secretaries, chefs, homemakers, grandmothers, police officers, firefighters, mothers.  I even received a beautiful letter from a closet Claymate who is a CFO at a major university.

Clay inspires us. I don’t know why but he’s contagious. Even my kids are getting into raising funds for BAF this summer by putting up neighborhood lemonade stands.

I can’t remember the last time I could say that. He’s inspired my own writing career, and he’s inspired almost all of us at one time or another. One woman told me that Clay, “Brought springtime back into my life.” One shared a particularly tragic story ending with “Clay’s music and faith helped me through my daughter’s death.” And the one that I think would touch Clay the most from a 19 year-old woman, “Clay brought me back to God.”

And for those of you in the public who are concerned that we don’t have lives, let me assure you, I do. I am a professor and a freelance writer and love my professions. Currently, I am editing a textbook. I have a husband and two children whom I adore and who adore me. I have a number of hobbies, and I even like music other than Clay Aiken.

Everything from Pavarotti to Pink Floyd to Maroon 5. Yes, I have a mind of my own. And so does my friend Dianne, and Linda and Linda and Renee and Bobbi. In fact, even though I would never be so presumptuous as to speak for a large group of people, everyone being so individual and all, I think I am pretty safe in speaking for all Clay’s fans when I say to those of you who think we need lives, “Our lives are just fine, but thank you for caring.”

In all honesty, I don’t get that people don’t get him. To me, Clay Aiken is one of the voices of our age and a ding dang fine man to boot. If we have “bad taste” we’re in good company with the likes of Clive Davis and RCA. But I don’t mind that everyone doesn’t appreciate him. We all have different tastes and that’s natural and fine. Why can’t we just agree to disagree on these small things and maybe the larger, more important issues will get easier to resolve. Diversity makes this world exciting. If we open our hearts to diversity we truly can learn something new everyday.

We can grow, become a more enlightened and hopefully a more tolerant world. It’s only when I ignore labels and really get to know the people behind them that I find myself evolving as a human being. If you told me five years ago that I would belong to a fan club at my age, I would have said something that you might have said. “Right. No thanks but I have a life.” Or “That’s ridiculous.” But low and behold, I took a chance and a wonderful world of friendship and good deeds has opened up to me. God does work in mysterious ways.

You see, we Clay fans aren’t just fans, but then, he isn’t just a singer. Like Clay himself, there is something different about his fan base. We are fiercely loyal. Somehow, we are united. We are a team, dare I even say a family. And, Clay, we have your back!  Sadly, for that, many resent us. I hate being labeled. But like Nathanial Hawthorne’s heroine, Hester Pryne, I will wear this scarlet “C” not with shame but with honor as she finally came to do. So here’s to Clay, Claymates, Broads, Clayniacs, the Claynation or just Clay fans, friendships made and good deeds done.

Maybe more people should be as obnoxious, aggressive, inane, and stupid as Clay’s fans. I think the world would be a much better place.
_____________________________________________________________
Bonnie is a professor and freelance writer in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two children. She is currently very involved in raising awareness of autism and inclusion.

Copyright 2004 Bonnie Lini Markowski. Printed with the permission of the writer. 
 
 
 
 
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 10:38:45 PM »
clayaikenwow
Guest
  BONNIE LIN MARKOWSKI: IN DEFENSE OF CLAY FANS EVERYWHERE
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2004, 05:35:59 PM »   

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Very nice article, it sure is amazing when you look at how clay has really been a huge part in making millions realize what matters most and getting involved in great organizations and charities, and just giving back and helping as much as we can, and being for many even closer spititually! AnD meeting awesoem new friends!
 
 
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Marilyn

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Re: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 10:39:04 PM »
joni
Guest
  Precious Clay
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2004, 07:35:37 PM »   

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Thank you for your wonderful article, your words had me in tears. I don't care what anyone has to say about me, or what they thing of me, I am
proud to be a fan of Clay's, he is a beautiful person who is making a difference in this crazy hateful world.  I just don't understand, It has to be jealousy. And if all his fans have no life, well I say thank God he has brought so much joy to so many people.

Clay is not doing anything to hurt anyone, and if he is using me, I'd like to thank him. Critics knock yourself out you are not going to turn me against Clay no matter what you call me or thing of me.

I had a wonderful life before Clay and he has made it better.   
Thanks to this article I am going to contact the BAF and pray that they will use me as a volunteer in any way I can be of help.

Clay's # 1 Senior Citizen Fan
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 10:39:30 PM »
aiken4clay2006
Guest
  in support clay fans
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2004, 06:46:09 PM »   

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i to have been told that i am gay because i listen 2 clay i guss my 4 year old sister is gay as well or my mom and dad i find  it un real that someone would stoop 2 such a level as this to exspress their opinon my sister knows every word 2 "invisable" and sings along  with me ... so hold your heads high claymates and support thoe man we love.!!!! :)
 
 
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Marilyn

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Re: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 10:40:11 PM »
BeckyS
Guest
  Hi all Clay fans
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2004, 10:58:32 AM »   

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Why I don't understand don't they like him? He is a wonderful singer and very sweet and talented. Why do people put you down if you like him? There is nothing wrong with it at all. Sure maybe some people get all obsessive and weird but not all. We are all not silly housewives or overweight or people who have problems. We are all just normal people who have 'lives'.
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Marilyn

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Re: 7/6/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: In Defense of Clay Fans Everywhere
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 10:41:07 PM »
denise b knott
Guest
  clay article
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2004, 11:34:26 PM »   

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I also am a very happily married, mother, career woman, who happens to be a Clay fan.  What these disc jockeys do not realize is that we are the ones who listen to their music stations, and we are the ones who give our children the money to buy the music they play (or don't or won't play). We keep them in a job and when we ask for more Clay songs, then they should be respectful enough to at least try to play more songs, not bash all women who have a brain and use it.  But it is not only the women.  Men like to go to the concerts and listen to his music also.  And it is NOT because they are gay or funny or happy or what evere you want to call it.   The men, like the women, are tired of the cursing, vulgar displays of inhumanity that most rock stars present to our children.  We are really trying very hard to find someone who is CLAY and we have found it in CLAY.  He has a beautiful voice, he isn't afraid of his Christian belief, even though he does not push it down anyone's throat, he has opinions, he is happy, witty, sad, gracious and yes sometimes even he gets angry when things are not prepared correctly for his performance. But we are all human.  At least I can go to a concert and carry my four year old grandchild and not have to worry about what might be said or seen on stage.  I say go all the way Clay.  We are here for you.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

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