07 November 2014

Reality Bites for Clay Aiken

In the wake of the GOP wave election results in the 2014 midterms, Republicans gloated about the many liberal legacies and legend candidacies which went down to defeat. One of these sideshow races involved Clay Aiken, the 35 year old singer who first came to fame coming in second on American Idol II and Celebrity Apprentice.  Aiken sought to parlay his fame and social activist instincts into politics, running against freshman Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC 2nd).

This was set to be a tough race, as it is a Republican +11 district.  Still, Clay Aiken resorted to fundraising in California to fight the good fight. So it was no surprise that in a Republican wave election that Clay Aiken once again was the bridesmaid.  But what did raise eyebrows from fans, politicos and financial supporters that despite his crushing 17% loss in the election, Aiken still won a mini-series documenting the campaign with Esquire TV, which hypes it as "a raw and honest look at American politics through an incredibly unique and compelling candidate."

While the mini-series move might seem smart to professionally cover one's behind, the Esquire announcement did not go over well with some well placed supporters.   Steven Tyler, a Hollywood based actor/producer, who organized the Los Angeles fundraiser for Aiken bridled at Clay's self-serving chicanery.

[L] Actor/Producer Steven Tyler [R] Clay Aiken at Sept. 30 political fundraiser

Those attending the September 30th California fundraiser were told that the camera crew following Aiken were doing a BBC documentary.  The releases which attendees signed were for British broadcast, not in the US. Tyler thought that Aiken's idea of documenting the campaign was a good one but objects to the legerdemain in the releases.

Aiken's seven minute concession speech obliquely references coming in second (yet a third time) but still fighting on:

"The result did not go in the way that we wanted it to tonight, but we've walked down this path once -- or twice before.  And when about 11 years ago, after 'American Idol' we came up short in another vote, we found reason to be happy, we found opportunity to see a win.
My voice is not going to be silenced by this. My voice is only going to get louder and we’re only going to tell more stories.”
That was boffo bravado for the cameras, but Aiken does not realize that by landing the mini-series, he spent his credibility.

It's a pity.  Aiken started his public career on American Idol being a nerdy teacher for autistic children with an exceptional voice.  He blossomed into an entertainer who was a safe celebrity for tween girls to idolize as Claymates.

Despite losing American Idol, he crafted a successful entertainment career crooning standards and Christmas tunes while advancing philanthropic pursuits to help intellectually disabled individuals and cautiously representing for homosexuals after he came out.

Those admirable accomplishments are marred by a mini-series which was produced on false pretenses and is self serving.  One wonders if Clay's concession speech was just for the cameras too.

Wendy Davis, Democrat Texas state senator who gained national notoriety as Abortion Barbie for her ill fated filibuster in 2013, used that moment as a springboard for a quixotic gubernatorial campaign (which she lost by 20%).  Many political observers expect Davis to soon be appearing on MSNBC, but even she had the good sense to wait a bit before trying to transition to television.

On the hustings in North Carolina, candidate Clay Aiken refused to sing because: "The minute I sing, I'm a punchline... People like me. But I need them to take me seriously."  Aiken need not worry about being a punchline in politics.

But if Aiken expects to be taken seriously again on the public stage or advocating issues after this docu-series, he might well find that Reality Bites. Clay should consider taking the stage again, and it is leaving in five minutes.

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