Are you familiar with MIsha Collins? I'm wasn't until today. I don't watch much TV. But apparently he's on a CW show called Supernatural. He also has a yearly charity event called GISHWISHES, or the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. This event, by the way, started as a publicity stunt to help collins with the People's Choice Award.
The scavenger hunts in previous years have had some great feats of accomplishment, helping Hurricane Sandy victims, entertaininh dialysis patients, and giving blood. And every year they donate money to Collins' charity Random Acts.
A visit to the GISHWISHES website also lists such accomplishments as "Recycling Parties," "Teaching people they can dance anywhere," "Helping adults reclaim their childhood," and other such inane projects that can only be dreamed up by wealthy elite narcissists designed to make people do their bidding. Hidden Cash, anyone? Participants also can win grand prize trips, because what's the point of charity if there isn't something in it for you too, right?
Calm down. I'm not "hating." Okay, yes I am. But so what. If you have money to give to the needy, just do it for fuck's sake. Don't make people jump through hoops. Most of the items on this years GISHWISH scavenger hunt list have nothing to do with any participant really benefitting from the activities. Unless you count the proverbial helping someone "step out of their shell," which I don't. The majority of the list though has little to do with even helping anyone-- unless you count promoting GISHWISH as helping someone.
Some choice examples form the list of 185 things :
19. Stand in front of a recognizable landmark or monument, wear something magnificent, and in whatever your native language is, complete the following sentence: Gishwhes makes me feel____
22. Because of our subversive influence, most governments have declared GISHWHES to be a national security threat. Have a uniformed officer explain to a unit of servicemen how to neutralize a hostile GISHER.
185. Get “GISHWHES” spelled out at night by using the effect of lit and unlit office windows in a skyscraper. We must be able to clearly see the word and it must span at least 30 stories. 291 POINTS
183. Last year, NASA used their official twitter account to politely ask us to stop bothering the astronauts on the space station. NASA has undoubtedly spent the past 12 months regretting this hastily-made decision, so we are giving them a second chance to get in on the fun… Get “GISHWHES conquers space” or “GISHWHES ” written on or in something orbiting in space. 400 points if an astronaut poses with the inscription. No photoshopping allowed! A couple of teams cheated last year on the space item and were disqualified. 289 POINTS
The one that has people upset though, is #78: Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. -59 POINTS
You see, these well-meaning but very dumb participants got it into their brain to bombard a lot of published science fiction writers with a plea to write a story about Misha, the Queen of England, and an Elopus. No doubt they forgot about the part that it was for charity and so weren't in the know but instead opened email after email from people who came across as the breathless scavenger hunt nerds they are. You see, it never occurred to these well meaning sheeple that writers get paid to write and charity or not, it's their job. And the job requires a great deal of effort.
Just as it never occurred to Misha Collins to, I don't know, pool a sizable list of science-fiction authors who might be willing to participate, so the entire community wouldn't be inundated? Guess that would've taken effort, huh? Maybe it should have gone on the scavenger hunt list.
Here's an excerpt from her Facebook page, emphasis mine:
This year, Misha Collins got the fun idea to ask his fans to contact published sci-fi authors to write a story about him.
And by fun I mean rude. Whether or not he gave this any thought, Misha Collins has just subjected authors to dozens of emails from HIS fans asking us to write a story. About him. For free. Maybe it didn't occur to Misha that we are actual people with a job to do. Maybe it didn't occur to him that we are not his employees. Maybe, and this is the most likely, he just thought it would be fun.
But, like anyone else, authors are just people with a job to do. We have our own fans to interact with (and we do so without encouraging them to solicit free work from others), and we have our own stories to write, and our own bills to pay. I also have my own emails from readers to read and respond to, and I am so not appreciating this flood of boilerplate "Write this story for Misha" requests which I seem to have received even though my books are not traditionally classified as sci-fi.
So, because Misha didn't think of us authors as real human beings with a job of our own to do, I am appealing to all of you to see that we are. Please share and pass this along, and please, please, please do not ask me to work for Misha for free so he can have a good laugh. I am right now working on my own books, which I am writing for all of you. And frankly you guys are more important to me than being an item on this scavenger hunt.
Good for Lauren! She was of course painted by the same sheeple who bombarded her with emails as being "insensitive." Either that or some commenters implored her to do it for charity (because blackmail always works) or worse, just insulted her with thinly disguised threats like this comment underneath her post. I didn't include the person's name here which is more tact that that person demonstrated Ms. DeStafano.
You basically wrote a story about Misha Collins right here already, I don't know why it's such a big deal to write a story for your fans in the name of charity. Rather than start all this drama it may have been better (and less time consuming) had you just wrote a short story and sent the same one to your fans or even posted that story on facebook for everyone to use. If I was participating in this contest and had sent you an email I'd be half tempted to send this post as a reply. You may want to rethink topics like this in the future as many of your fans are loyal to supernatural and it's a fandom that really sticks together and due to this post it may result in a loss of fans. I'm sorry, but this was handled poorly.
I need to remember this tactic.
"You should really bake three dozen cupcakes for me instead of complaining that I want you to work for free, otherwise you might lose me as a customer."
"You need to remember that those of us who are fans of your music might not like your comments, and it'd be a real shame if you lost our support, now wouldn't it."
Hell, even science fiction writer Neil Gaiman, whose wife Amanda Palmer was infamous for trying to get musicians to work for free, opted out, albeit in a more aloof way. I imagine he was tired of fielding the comments and emails, too.
It isn't just the tone of the so-called fans responses who already who complain the loudest when content creators dare suggest they be paid for their work that really irks me. Nor is it that, charitable giving aside, Misha Collins self-serving narcissism which reaches Zach Braff levels of annoyance hatched an ill-conceived scheme to get his participants to hound people. Although that is annoying, too.
No, what really bothers me is that in this list of things to do, Misha Collins is also asking you the scavenger hunt participants to create content as well, because even he sees content the same way as the Facebook commenters: It's no big deal. Just shut up and do it.
Again from the scavenger hunt list:
152. Make a children’s Pop-Up book about the CROATOAN Virus ending the world
167. If GISHWHES were a destination vacation, what would the brochure look like?
Oh PLEASE let me design a brochure for you, and write and make a pop-up book, too. PLEASE let's devalue our talent and content just for YOU, Misha! Pretty please!
I understand this is the new normal now. People don't value content. And when someone who creates content dares to stand up and say "I'm not working for free," people shit on them. I get it. What I don't get is the very same person who makes a living creating content asks other people to do it for free, in the hopes of winning a grand prize trip to wherever. Or worse, puts someone in a position where, if they say no, is made to feel like a horrible person because they aren't helping a charity.
How exactly is that a random act of kindness?