Those of you who follow these sorts of things may have noticed some things floating around on Twitter regarding Channel Awesome. Many may not. Either way, holy shit are you guys in for a fucking ride.
For those not in the know, Channel Awesome is a Chicago-based production company that sprung from another such website called That Guy With The Glasses. That Guy With The Glasses (TGTWTG for short) was founded in 2008 by Mike Michaud, Mike Ellis, and Bhargav Dronamraju (the latter two are no longer with the site). They mainly host videos created by critics of various pop culture ephemera; movies, comics, video games and the like.The most well-known producer that they host is Doug Walker, the “Nostalgia Critic” and eponymous “guy with the glasses.”
Now, I was a fan of TGWTG/CA for several years. They helped me discover some of my favorite YouTubers like Lindsay Ellis, Kyle Kallgren, Allison Pregler, and Todd In The Shadows. However, as the producers that I was following moved from the now-defunct Blip to YouTube, I just started following them from there and eventually just stopped visiting the site altogether.
And it’s a good thing I did too, because apparently management at CA apparently have a history of treating their employees and content producers like shit, according to a (at the time of writing) a 69-page document created by a number of former Channel Awesome contributors and employees.
I really recommend reading either the document linked above (or this condensed version) because hoo boy, is there some baffling shit in there. This is an absolutely ridiculous level of mismanagement and general bullshit, including but not limited to:
-Sexual harassment, with most accusations falling on former COO Mike Ellis (for which he was eventually fired):
-Just misogyny in general:
-General disregard for the well-being and safety of producers while filming the site’s anniversary specials:
-Paying producers in exposure (Side note: if any site offers to pay you in “exposure,” RUN THE FUCK AWAY. If they think your content is good enough to publish, it should be good enough for them to give you actual compensation.)
-Firing producers for spurious reasons, and often with little to no warning:
-Ignoring harassment campaigns against producers, unless it affects their bottom line:
-Generally not giving a shit about any producer on the site not named Doug Walker:
-Both emotional and sexual abuse (note: the below accounts are really the ones that got my blood fucking boiling):
This is just a taste, as it would not be practical to highlight every accusation listed in the document. And it’s still growing as more contributors add their own stories. I highly, highly recommend reading it if you would like to learn more. There is also a condensed version of said document available if you aren’t able to go through all 69 pages.
All of this also seems to be having an effect on the site’s bottom line. Since the document in question went up, CA saw its subscriber count decrease significantly, and at least one producer has left the site in the immediate aftermath. (Update 4/8/18: It turns out that at least six more producers have left the site since the document came out.) And I think that things are going to get worse for them from here.
I also think that they know this, considering that they recently put out this ridiculous statement in response:
Well, that’s the biggest non-apology I’ve ever seen. They even say, “we regret that you feel that way,” which is fauxpology 101.
I guess I would say that I’m disappointed. Not particularly surprised; from some accounts that I had heard before this, Channel Awesome was always kind of a shit show behind the scenes. But I had no idea just how deep this particular rabbit hole went, and I very much feel for the creators who had their trust abused in such a horrible way.
As a bit of a side note, apparently there are some people harassing the producers that are still currently with Channel Awesome. This is really not a good look, since the problem is simply with the site’s management, and people just shouldn’t go around harassing other people anyway.
I think we could all stand to just not be fucking assholes for a little while.
Update 4/4/18: Sean Fausz has posted a video expanding on his section of the Google doc as well as the sexual harassment accusations against Mike Ellis. It can be viewed here. Also, while looking back at the post I realized I forgot to link the condensed version of said doc, which may have been helpful to those who want to read it. That has been remedied.
Update 4/8/18: Allison Pregler has also posted a video expanding on the document. You can watch it here.
Update 4/12/18: Jesus Christ, this story just won’t stop happening. Not content with the non-apology, CA has decided to put out this PR disaster of a statement. You’ll notice, upon reading it, that they kind of end up confirming the things said in the document instead of refuting them like they intended to. And, of course, the statements they “refuted” were largely those made by the women producers. Funny, that.