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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Steve Grand's live interview with CNN

After viewing the CNN interview "A New Kind of Country"

I sent a News Tip to CNN using their email option:

Nicholas Alan portrayed Steve Grand's straight male love interest in the music video All-American Boy.  Here is how he, going by his stage name of Taylor, is using the All-American Boy video to promote his projects:  Click the video, “What is? USA CAM GUYS.”   The usacamguys project is promoted as not being pornography. The Gaydemon review says: “USA Cam Guys isn't exactly a porn site”

I also sent this comment to Steve's Facebook page:
Here is how Nicholas Alan, as Taylor, is using Steve’s All-American Boy music video. The usacamguys project is promoted as not being pornography……. The Gaydemon review says: “USA Cam Guys isn't exactly a porn site” Here is how they are using Steve’s AAB video:   Click the video, “What is? USA CAM GUYS

See also the post here on Taylor using AAB video to promote the USA CAM GUYS  project

This is my take on the interview:

I can see why people liked the interview.  He came across as being a nice guy.  And he wasn’t overly polished, but he had his stick down that he wanted to say.  Yet, I wasn’t surprised.  I’ve worked through the interview, point by point.  And as much as there are a lot of good things about the interview, Steve’s deception about Nick still profoundly takes away from my appreciation and respect for what the interview communicates. 

And it’s not like I haven’t tried every way I know how to address this issue with Steve as directly as possible.  I’m surprised that as I tire from addressing the same things over and over as they are presented in various interviews and articles, I continue to enjoy his video.  But not so much, Nick’s character in the video.  A sense of arrogance emerges more and more to me there in his portrayal.   

Okay, addressing the CNN interview, step by step. 
·         So, they call Steve a Chicago native, not even a native of Lemont – so they think he is a country boy, why?  Lemont is hardly a country small town.
·         And even yet, they keep calling him a country star (what, because they filmed some of the video out on a rural road?
·         1 ½ million YouTube views also means that many people have watched it multiple times.  So, how many different people have viewed it.  Now that’s a very different number.  I say about one tenth that number.
·         Again, he sings the song so differently in the video than he did at the Joynt.
·         “His song is about love, a relationship, had and lost with another man”, she says.  Really?  What relationship did he have with the man in the video?  None.  The only relationship that Steve even talks about in interviews is one partner who isn’t his partner any longer.  He talks in print interviews about the mentor/role model situation he had when he was 13 at Scout camp.  I just can’t believe how news reporters distort things for their own agenda of getting viewers to watch.  And then she keeps saying, “gay country singer.”  At least the man there with her admits that it is them, that call him a country singer. 
·         “If that label has meaning for people, I certainly don’t want to take that away from them”, Steve says.  When he means, without that label, he wouldn’t get the press that he is getting.  See his logic coming out.  He says he writes what moves him.  He says, “But I could certainly see why some people would call it country… If it’s country to someone and not country to someone else, that’s fine by me.”  Just like his logic for if you think that Nicholas Alan is straight or not. 
·         “…being okay with who you are,” she says.  I say, who he decided to be.  Pretty big difference between the two.  In terms of who you are, Who is Nick?  Is he also gay, because he does oral sex with guys?  Or is he straight, because Steve wants to say Nick is straight, to market the video?  Or is Nick only an actor portraying a role in the video?
·         Yes, we should be talking about actually why so many people are focusing on this story.  She thinks it is so amazing that so many people are focusing on it.  I say it is because Steve is distorting who Nick is. 

·         Steve says, “I don’t have an issue with that,” referring to the question about what his reaction is to people focusing on his sexuality.  Of course, that’s part of the marketing scheme.  If Nick was his boyfriend, he sure wouldn’t be telling that in the press. But I don’t see Nick being the type of guy that would want to be dating Steve.  Too into himself for who Steve is.  I think Steve is fascinated with who Nick is, in a similar way to how he was fascinated with the older youth Scout counselor.  It's what he finds unattainable yet, but what he yearns for.  I think this is the story of what the unrequited love is about.

·         “…to express how I feel and what moves me in life,” he says, as to why he got into music.  That is so, but he is also moved by being able to kiss a gay-for-pay porn actor.  It was Steve’s decision to have Nick portray that role in the video.  Just tell the real story, instead of continuing to deceive people, and doing it with a big smile. 
·         When Steve says, “the main thing here,” I say the main thing here is the way he can justify this misrepresentation of something so critical to the story he wants to tell.  Like a skilled politician.  Telling people what they want to hear.  Reaping the benefit if they hear what they want to hear, and not ask a lot of deeper questions.  He calls it art.  He calls it moving people.  Yet, in his other print interviews, he calls it telling an honest story.  In The Backlot interview, Steve is specifically calling Nick straight, as a person, who is portraying the role of a straight man in the video.  This is a great example of this.
·         “You can’t do that without being honest about who you are and what you want to say,” he says.  Seriously……?     But you can be dishonest about who the guy who you kiss is in the video….. and that be okay.  Yes, of course Steve's sexuality has shaped who he is – his journey has shaped him to define his morality as justifying deceiving people for his goal of promoting his message. 
·         “I wasn’t starting out trying to sell myself as a gay artist,” he says.  Really……?  Selecting Nick, who he met and crushed on right away, down in Miami, a year and a half ago, to be his supposedly straight unrequited love interest, who is now marketing AAB for his own sex cam project with usacamguys at Gayhuppla.  Come on.  And Steve wrote the song after meeting Nick.  Seriously.  Steve really does have the compartmentalization down pat.
·         The male interviewer asks, “How do you move beyond being the first gay country singer?”  Again, seriously….. how can the guy ask that, after they just established that it is the media who put that label on Steve.  (or maybe a carefully thought out behind the scenes marketing team….)  But others including Eli Lieb keep saying that Steve is not the first.  He isn’t even a country singer.  Of course Steve has to speak up about how he isn't the first.  Eli comments about the differences between them:

“Some people can relate to Steve Grand's video, because they are still closeted as is the lead character in the video, but for me, I wanna show the freedom of being who I am. I didn't set out to make a righteous statement with this video,” Lieb said. “It just so happens that one of my many characteristics is that I am gay. When it came time to shoot a video to this love song, I, of course, had to stay true to who I am in order to tell that story: I didn't flinch for a second.”

I'm not sure why Eli says that Steve's character in the video is still closeted.  He implies that Nick's character might not even be closeted in the video...  Isn't Steve's point in the video that his character isn't closeted any more?
·         So, he makes such a big point addressing that he doesn’t feel he is the “first gay country star.”  But won’t address the issue about Nick.  And when he talks about not being a star, and that this is just one song in what he hopes to be a music career…, again he cleverly masks the larger issue of what got him all of the press.  And does it with his apparent sincerity about the not a star issue.  When he has been deceptive and deliberately misleading from the get go, about Nick.  I accept him for doing this aw shucks, smart marketing scheme.  But I can’t respect him for the way he is trying to promote his music and his career.  His song wouldn’t have been that noticeable without the music video selling it and without all of his underwear photos.  I think Steve is smart and is playing things to his best advantage.
·         He is going to work really, really hard to make “that” happen, referring to the success of his career.
·         *Drake Jensen and Chely Wright – he is mentioning the people who are actually some of the firsts in what is actually country music to be openly gay.  Being the “first” wasn’t on his mind at all, he says.  I don’t buy it at all.  Not when he talks in other places about the fact that it is Nicholas Alan as being what Steve feels is the new All-American Boy. 
* my thanks to Mark Walker for his correction for Mr. Jensen's correct first name
·         And then, here again, see how he is humble, saying 1.5 million views on YouTube isn’t a lot compared to the cat videos.  It’s easy to be funny and cute and humble when you are successfully avoiding the large Elephant in the room.  You picked a guy who does gay porn to be your image of a straight guy and make it all about why it is great that he doesn’t rebuff you, even when you kiss him, and that he stays your friend.  I don’t find any indication that Nick is even Steve’s friend.  More like a business partner for a specific project.
·         “Financed it yourself,” she reads, from what Steve said on Facebook and said in interviews.  One wonders how much more there is to that story as well, given how Steve spins things.  This part about his finances has the same ring as the Nick Alan part of Steve’s story.  However, I haven’t found a way to learn more about the money part.  How much does Digital Skylight charge for making a video like this?  Did they give him a break in the price?  What kick-back does Nick get?  Did Nick put any money into it?  Steve makes it sound like his friends mostly helped out for free, in being in the video, but is Nick his friend, or the gay crush he needed to have or hire, to portray this role for him, so that he could portray his unrequited love emotions?  Nick’s tweets about this, as DocTayTay, are very revealing about this. 
·         So, he says he saved up a little over $2,000 of his own money and that that amount was huge for him.  Good.  And a good gamble to put more than that on plastic.  It's an impressive overall marketing plan.
·         When she asks him if the agents are knocking on the door, Steve stumbles to find the right words before answering, “…gotten offers, definitely… taking it slow and playing it smart… in New York to talk and meet with people… to learn .”  Oh he’s got that right…..  Definitely he has played this one smart from the beginning.
·         He says, “All I ever cared about was making the music good.”  Really…….?  Then why was it so important that he have Nick in his video?  See, he reveals why when he says “…that emotional resonance” that he needs.  He needed to look like he was in love with the character Nick is portraying, so he needed to use the fact that he has a crush on Nick.  Again, read DocTayTay’s tweets about this.  And Nick knew that and has taken advantage of that for his own gain.  Steve says, “you can’t buy emotional resonance… you can’t fake it.”   Hear what he is saying.  He couldn’t have had any other guy, especially a straight guy, be his unrequited love in the video, because no one else is that for him.
·         Simply amazing....  But I so get it, in terms of how easy it is for someone like Steve, to so completely compartmentalize his way of thinking, to allow him to not say what he is not saying…  No wonder I don’t get a reply to any of my questions sent to him directly, through twitter or Facebook.  A simple straightforward answer days ago, would have sufficed.
·         Now, drawing on the rest of the information of his other interviews: I think Steve is doing the same thing with his Catholic faith – picking and choosing what parts of it work for him and using those parts for his gain.  But then, we all do that...  You can see some patterns here that may well explain why even though he got a lot out of his straight counseling, he didn’t find that it was successful enough in addressing his same sex sexual attractions along with his same sex emotional and relational attractions, to help him have any other response to the straight counseling other than at the end to say he disagreed with the direction his counselor might have suggested.  My guess, however, is that his counseling was consistent with the teaching of his Catholic faith that he embraced at least in part (as he still plays music for the Catholic church).  He simply didn’t want to follow their direction in terms of their response to same sex sexual attractions.  Even when there are plenty of openly gay Catholic priests, who at least some of them, have chosen to be celibate chaste and most have probably at least chosen to be celibate, as their response to their faith.  If Steve wants to hook up with the organization, Dignity, with a Catholic faith connection, to be encouraged by a gay affirming Catholic origin perspective in encouraging him in being openly gay, all the more power to him.  My concern continues and has always been about the deception he continues to do, to take advantage of the public and use the media to promote his video and his music.  I keep asking and saying the same thing, just be honest.  All the way honest.  You did a gay music video with a gay actor and you wanted to market it as being about your love for a straight man where he didn’t reject you, even though he didn’t want to make out with you - and you tried to mask it further by tying in a separate type of experience of your experience with a straight older teen boy when you were 13.  Steve says it’s not about being gay, when in reality it is everything about being gay.  Playing into the society's gay-affirming culture, very similar to what Jason Collins did in terms of pro-basketball, but this time for career gain.  It’s smart marketing – playing on what the country is sympathetic about but to avoid what the country isn’t ready to be understanding about.  And seriously, does Steve really think that anyone ever thought that his modeling was only to sell underwear….?