Misha Collins asks writers to work for free, gets ass handed to him.


Misha Collins asks writers to work for free, gets ass handed to him.

Update. This is the part where you think I'm going to tell you this particular one has been removed, right? Well, since I'm not part of this club and so I can't see their super secret list. Oh wait, yes I can, it's on Tumblr. Regardless, judging by the update on the GISHWHES website, I would very much doubt it's been removed.

Commandment 4 – Harassment – It’s come to our attention that a number of teams have been verbally harassing authors and politicians to achieve items. If someone doesn’t want to help you, this is no reason to verbally attack them. We are trying to create art and change lives, not hurt people. Your team will be docked points if we determine that you are breaking Commandment 4. Perhaps more importantly, you are dinging your karma credit. Be nice to people. Remember, you are representing the global community of GISHWHES and that community believes that through art we can change lives – not hurt them.

Wow. Self-aggrandizement much? I say it hasn't been removed because I notice below, they make reference to #173 being removed. In case you're curious as to what that would be, it's this:

#173. Some things should be broken. Let’s see if we can crash williamshatner.com: get all your friends to visit the site at precisely 9:02 AM PST, Monday August 4th. You must show a screencap of the ensuing error message including the URL in the URL bar. (Hint: Don’t visit the site before that exact time, as it will give the servers time to take on the load.) 65 POINTS

Ho Ho Ho. Random acts of kindness. Crash someone's website. Yeah. Lovely people all around.

Also, an upberfan has pointed out that some of the things on the list were user submitted. Unless Misha Collins and Co. don't bother approving them, it's a moot point.

Are you familiar with Misha Collins? I 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 GISHWHES, or the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. This event, by the way, started as a publicity stunt to help Collins try to win the People's Choice Award.

The scavenger hunts in previous years have had some great feats of accomplishment, helping Hurricane Sandy victims, entertaining dialysis patients, and giving blood. And every year they donate money to Collins' charity Random Acts.

A visit to the GISHWHES 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 [insert other clever phrase]” 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.

At least one writer, (who isn't even considered a science fiction writer, mind you) Lauren DeStefano sounded off very loudly on it.

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. DeStefano.

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 fan responses who already 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 participant, to create content as well. 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! That's not even mentioning the filmed clips of you doing something stupid that no doubt are a part of that list, and will no doubt, be uploaded to Youtube where ads will live and money will be made, except of course from the person who created the content.

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 that the entrants might win a grand prize trip to wherever, the odds being slim. Or worse, the same person puts established authors in a position where, if they say no to a scavenger hunt, they are made to feel like a horrible person because they aren't helping a charity.

How exactly is that a random act of kindness?



This is my second year participating in GISHWHES. I agree that the scavenger lists are very badly un-thought-through -- both years, items have been included that have had to be withdrawn or amended because of actual danger to participants or incitement to harassment. As an example, one of last year's items included persuading an astronaut in orbit to pose for a photo holding a sign. This was not cleared with NASA in any way. Needless to say, it was quickly withdrawn once NASA started getting inundated with e-mails. (Under the rules of the game, I'm not at liberty to disclose this year's item list until the competition ends.)

I'll be the first to admit that Misha Collins' sense of "whimsical humour" gets on my wick. Not to mention the level of attention-seeking, which is high even for an actor. I fully agree with you there. And I've never heard of him outside the competition, either.

I suspect the intention behind the "have a published author write a story" item was that participants were supposed to use their personal networking skills to find a contact who fit the description and would be happy to dash off a couple of paragraphs as a favour to a friend. (Note that the required length is 140 words or less.) That's certainly what my team is doing. Unfortunately, nobody on GISHWHES management considered the inevitable consequences: that some teams would simply bombard every science-fiction author they could think of.

If the competition is going to survive more than a few years, they're going to have to spend a lot more serious thought about the scavenger items, working through the foreseeable ramifications. Otherwise they're going to end up with a lawsuit on their hands, I just know it.

But I have to disagree about your comments in the last part of this article. Participants are not, on the whole, professional creatives. We're doing it for the challenge of being creatively stretched, and the hilarious togetherness of working as a team to do a rush of mad activities, running on caffeine and adrenalin -- not even in hopes of winning the prize holiday, just purely for the fun of the thing.

Take the brochure item you mention. Some random person is going to sit down with MS Paint or a box of felt-tips and fill a sheet of paper with something vaguely resembling a brochure. It's not spec work. We're not submitting mock-ups. The result won't be evaluated for its suitability for future GISHWHES marketing -- assuming GISHWHES ever actually does any marketing beyond Collins' blog and fan word-of-mouth.

I like to draw but seldom allow myself the time. This week I'm drawing. Other team members are staging weird photo shoots. Still other team members are doing goofy things with their kids. We're not creating content. We're indulging in hobbies.