My Expanded Thoughts On The Channel Awesome Controversy


OK, I’ve had a couple of days to absorb the full brouhaha surrounding the “Not So Awesome” document—a nearly 70-page whistleblowing document on the business practices of Channel Awesome penned by around 20 of their former contributors & employees—and I just want to get down a few final thoughts on the matter before I stick a pin in this and move on to other schadenfreudey stuff.

For those who don’t know, Channel Awesome is a website and YouTube channel that hosts/features a number of video review critics—of whom, Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker) is the most prominent. Originally seen as a sort of collective, it has been plagued with a number of contributor exoduses (exodi, if you will) over the years, and rumblings of various alleged malfeasances.

The release of this “Not So Awesome” document has hit that online, largely YouTube-based film review/fan community in a seismic way. The topic of countless outraged tweets and video responses, the document itself has almost take on a folk-hero type quality. It’s like every person who has ever felt wronged by an employer and/or sexually harassed and/or had considered trying out for Channel Awesome and either never did it or was rejected by them—has been triggered by this document.

And I don’t say “triggered” as a dismissive thing. Hell, *I’ve* been triggered by this document.

The allegations run the gamut from more “personal,” almost petty complaints (I’m just being honest here) to REALLY SERIOUS SHIT. The full gamut, wrapped into one document, 20 or so people building this surprisingly cohesive narrative that ultimately makes the management of Channel Awesome look not-so-good.

Here’s a list of my thoughts on this:

a) The stuff in the document about workplace violations—actors getting injured on set and forced to sign wavers after-the-fact—that stuff alone can get Channel Awesome in a mess of trouble. Like the thing about the actress who was “taped” to a wall in a cross position for so long until she passed out—HOLY SHIT! That alone—you can KILL a person doing that, because it cuts off the circulation. And then the person who busted their knee & was allegedly pressured to sign a waver…wow!

Did Channel Awesome have insurance to cover workplace accidents? What was the legality of the wavers? And did the people who got injured suffer any lingering damage (physical and/or mental)? Right there—this is really serious serious stuff.

b) A number of people who told their stories in the document probably have a case for mental cruelty and distress if nothing else, especially Obscurus Lupa, Lindsay Ellis, and Holly the HR rep.


d) If the stories of mismanagement contained in the document are true—including the ill-fated game show they collected $90K in crowdfunding for—then honestly, Channel Awesome will probably eventually implode anyway. Without any other action being taken. Trust me.

e) What is the tax situation for Channel Awesome?

f) The fact that so many young people—I mean, some people in their TEENS—were tapped as contributors in a thing where they were inadequately compensated and/or sorta “used”…this REALLY pisses me off, personally. It is SO MUCH part of that geek “faux business” culture to do shit like that. That should NOT have been the first business experience these young people had.

g) The way women were allegedly treated at Channel Awesome is pretty fucking sad. I’m not going to belabor the point, but GOOD GOD. And there is an anecdote of a guy being sexually harassed as well. To be clear: this was all part and parcel of that entire geek culture, so I’m not personally *surprised*…I *am* heartened by how much the community has rallied around these people who wrote the document. In fact, I’m actually really surprised at how much support they’ve gotten.

h) There IS an age/generational barrier going on here as well, in that you have “old school” geek culture (*my* peers) running a site/concern for a growing younger audience base. And a lot of these millennials…won’t put up with that crap. And that’s a BIG part of the backlash currently going on now against Channel Awesome.

As I’ve said in my previous post on the topic…I stopped following Nostalgia Critic’s stuff after it got too much like “mini-movies” and moved away from the actual film criticism. I still follow Cinema Snob & a bunch of animation critics. I’m always looking for fresh perspectives, and especially like the “film essays” that some younger people have been putting out.

And if there is a “silver lining” to all this—at least from my perspective, having immersed myself in this story for the last couple of days—it’s that I’ve been introduced to an expanded range of YouTube film critics and commentators. Both the more established ones, like Obscurus Lupa, and the smaller channels who had commented on the Channel Awesome story. It reminds me of what is *really* important about all this—the human element. The exchange of ideas. And treating people with respect.

And now….I’ve stuck a pin in it!