Hostile work environment, or self-entitled employee?

Last night I was scrolling Instagram, as you do, and I came across a post by Ellusionist (@ellusionist) that struck me as rather odd, it being from a company and all. It was screenshots of an email sent to a now ex-employee of Ellusionist and made for an interesting distraction for the night. At least for 10 minutes or so, I'd say.

The ex-employee is none other than Calen Morelli, known on Instagram as @thenothingexperiment. I didn't know this, though I expected it. You see, I saw Ellusionist's post first and had no idea what kind of drama was going on and they only said "Calen," who knew who they were talking about. Apparently, everyone but me =P

What Started It All?

Tuesday night, @thenothingexperiment went on a rant via his IG Story. A few screens of text, I almost thought it was a poem at first but then I realized nothing rhymed and the spelling was, well, not that of a poet.

As mentioned above, I saw his side of it after seeing Ellusionist's response. I didn't grab a screenshot fast enough and the rant itself disappeared from his story shortly after seeing it. However, I can summarize it fairly well:

Calen felt repressed. He has brought his creative genius to Ellusionist and offered them so much and they shut him down on every avenue. They are over-demanding, purely focused on view counts and sales and the pressure of having a restrictive timeline while not being able to express his thoughts to their fullest is just too much.

You know, if this was true holy crap that'd be a bad place to work for.

My favorite part of his rant was the last screen of text where he called for the community to do one thing and one thing only:

Go to Ellusionist's account and add "Let Calen do new shit" on their latest posts.
Calen Morelli - @thenothingexperiment

And... the community listened. Blindly acting on the words of a single man against the oppressors of magicians everywhere because honestly, who in their right mind would spend a full minute typing a wall of text into an Instagram Story if they weren't wronged?!

Ellusionist's Response

Here's where it all started for me, the response from Ellusionist which was screenshots of an email, sent to Calen:

Email sent from Ellusionist to Calen Morelli

If you don't want to read all of that, please accept my summary in bullet-list format:

  • Ellusionist accepted all of Calen's ideas and didn't tell him "no" for anything
  • Ellusionist sent him a single email about creating downloads for them, as this is what he was hired to do
  • Ellusionist did not give him any deadlines
  • Calen's offer letter was "pretty much" his terms -- i.e., Ellusionist was paying him to be him
  • This was his first week as an employee

I'm sorry, I need a second, I'm laughing a lot right now. He worked there for a week, and went on a rant? I can't even 🤣

One quote from the email that I think is hiding something more is:

Clearly, you're a lone wolf, an uncompromising artist. We respected it... We gave you a platform when nobody else would.
Ellusionist, to Calen Morelli

"We gave you a platform when nobody else would." Hmm. There's definitely something more to that.

My Take

Ellusionist said they'll be deleting the post in 24 hours, so we can all move on. Honestly, we should. But let's be fair, we should move on and take action. You can't list a criticism against something and not offer suggestions on how to make it better.

Yes, in this case they "made it better" by firing Calen and posting a public response. There are a few comments on the post saying, "you didn't need to post this" and "y'all lost a great one." Did they though? Being an employee of companies that have faced unfair criticisms that were blatant mistruths, I honestly don't even think I'm that biased on this one -- Ellusionist needed to post a public response for this one and they did very well in my opinion.

Calen, again, posted a response via his IG Story letting the world know (if Ellusionist's post wasn't enough) that he had been let go and they're moving on. Really? I feel like that's a bit of a stretch. They flat out said that they feel betrayed by your actions, you flat out said that they're oppressing you and stifling your talent, and all's just water under the bridge?

Calen's reply to Ellusionist firing him, written on his Instagram Story.

Oh my...

okay let's get real. i need 200 backers minimum this month on patreon
Calen Morelli

This isn't the first time Calen's done something like this either. It was about a year ago or so that he publicly challenged Jeremy Griffith (@lost_angelus) to a sleight of hand challenge. Jeremy excitedly accepted, and then things started getting weird. This friendly sleight of hand challenge went from "hey, let's do a fun collab" to "Jeremy, you have to do it live and without camera edits". And then, for some reason, "Jeremy, you couldn't do anything magical without card lapping." Mind you, these quotes here are not verbatim but the topics are the same -- except Calen was extremely rude in them. He posted numerous callouts against Jeremy, completely unprovoked and, again, to his IG Story.

Jeremy took the high road and dropped out of the challenge stating that it went from a friendly collaboration to, honestly, who knows what it was supposed to be other than an attack against Jeremy. "You got your likes and new followers that you were after," was Jeremy's response -- and those words have been how I have viewed Calen since then.

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