CHANNEL AWESOME: #changethechannel campaign

At times an odd dissonance resonates through the Internet, playing out in social media and on popular forums.  It's annoying but to be expected, given the anonymity granted to Internet users. It's hard to avoid if it occurs at one of your favorite Internet haunts. 

In this case,  it revolves around the online media production company Channel Awesome and some of its former contributors. 

Unfamiliar with Channel Awesome's content? The most popular series offered by them is Nostalgia Critic.

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Nostalgia Critic is an American review comedy web television series created by, directed by and starring web comedian Doug Walker. The series initially launched on YouTube in July 3, 2007 before moving to Walker's own site That Guy with the Glasses, then to Channel Awesome. The show follows Walker as the titular Nostalgia Critic, a bitter and sarcastic critic who reviews films and television shows from his childhood and recent past, usually with comically exaggerated rage. The show often alternates the Critic's angry rants and juvenile humor with legitimate analysis of the episode's subject.1

The Nostalgia Critic format set it apart from other reviewers back in the day.  

The shows mostly focus on the Critic watching a film as he makes fun of the movie's problems with recurring memes, comedic sketches and pop culture gags, such as making fun of famous actors who starred in lesser-known roles before their rise to fame. The show also features other segments, such as the "Top 11" lists countdowns for his favorite films, villains, or moments in television shows and "Old vs. New" which compares a reboot of a popular film or series to the original. Since the revival of the series in 2013, every other week features an editorial which discusses relevant film topics; while still featuring the Critic persona, these videos are much less comedic and contain no sketches or other actors. Beginning with Jurassic World in June 23, 2015, the series also occasionally features "clipless reviews" of films that are still currently in theaters; to avoid copyright infringement instead of stills and clips these reviews instead feature scenes from the movies re-enacted comedically by Walker, his family and other Channel Awesome contributors.2

Reviewers wanted to be part of Channel Awesome. The channel gave them better exposure and more views due to the popular Nostalgia Critic series. They signed on as content contributors and created their own unique series for Channel Awesome, in effect becoming employees. The channel also had staff to manage the daily workload behind the scenes.

This brings me to the #changethechannel campaign. A quick summary of what transpired:

Channel Awesome Criticized by Former Contributors for Alleged Mistreatment
Channel Awesome has been criticized by its former employees for allegedly mistreating its contributors, with popular videomakers who previously appeared on the site bemoaning its management, claiming that they left as a result of issues stemming from the behavior of its owners, Doug Walker, Rob Walker, and Mike Michaud. The allegations leveled at Channel Awesome have been circulating for the past few weeks, leading to #ChangeTheChannel becoming a trending topic in the process. Videomakers such as Allison "Obscurus Lupa" Pregler and Lindsay Ellis have been taking to Twitter to share their thoughts regarding the network, most commonly known for hosting the Nostalgia Critic web series.

Channel Awesome is a popular network that hosts film, TV, gaming and comics coverage from a variety of videomakers, with it currently home to the likes of Angry Joe and Chris Stuckmann. The complaints have seen some of Channel Awesome's former contributors, who previously hosted their videos on the site, criticize the attitudes of the Walkers and Michaud, claiming that they were treated poorly during their time on the site. These complaints have ranged from criticisms of Doug Walker's alleged incompetence when it came to developing the site's feature-length films, through to Lindsay Ellis reportedly being asked to make "being assaulted" noises during voiceover work.

The #ChangeTheChannel Twitter campaign, which was started in an effort to convince Channel Awesome's management to alter its approach to how it treats its contributors, has gained a lot of traction since being kicked off on March 14. In an extensive list of complaints about the site, CEO Mike Michaud was accused of sexism by Allison Pregler, who claimed: "Yes, he definitely does not like women. I believe he called me a "troublemaker" at one point."

Allison also responded to another user's tweet that their enjoyment of Nostalgia Critic wasn't going to be affected by the criticisms, with her replying: "If you still support Doug knowing he was awful to us that's on you, but I'd rather people don't tell me that."

She also claimed that she once "cried in a bathroom" after being confronted about her use of midroll advertisements.

Channel Awesome has held various anniversary movies in the past, including Kickassia and To Boldly Flee. The videomakers participating in #ChangeTheChannel criticized the production of these events, with Pregler sharing an early version of a script that saw Lindsay Ellis's lines containing "squeals and moans."

"The sad thing is the final version isn't much better," Lindsay replied. "[Doug Walker] still made me make "being assaulted" noises - and this during a reshoot he had to fly me out solo for because he deleted some of the footage with me in it."...3

Also known as the "Nostalgia Chick" persona, Ellis isn't exactly the person to be lodging complaints.

Feminism is empowerment. People like Ellis misunderstand that "empowerment" does not mean "degrading men" and misandrist behavior. People have expressed doubt that the network forced her to play her character squealing and moaning. It certainly didn't coax her to put this into video format:

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No one makes a feminist degrade herself. We tend to snarl when asked to, and we flatly refuse.  Principles over money, honey.

Her contribution to the Google document thus casts doubt on the other contributors' claims.  Ellis is known for making mountains out of molehills in her quest to push her skewered brand of feminism. People familiar with her nonsense are assessing her #changethechannel involvement.

A general consensus from some of the Channel Awesome supporters is, "If she is making her typically false accusations then who else is also padding their grievance with imagined slights?"

It's a shame, really. I feel that the former contributors do have some basis for their complaints.

Channel Awesome Criticized by Former Contributors for Alleged Mistreatment [continued]

It was also alleged that the site's now-defunct gaming site Blistered Thumbs was unexpectedly shut down, with its contributors only finding out as a result of the announcement given to the public. Kaylyn "MarzGurl" Saucedo, another former Channel Awesome videomaker, claimed that contributors Benzaie and Birdman had to find out about their dismissal from second-hand sources, rather than being directly informed by management.

Following these complaints, one of the network's veteran contributors, Linkara, has stated that he is no longer affiliated with Channel Awesome. In a post on his site, Linkara discussed the "growing discontentment towards the leadership of Channel Awesome and its CEO Mike Michaud," adding that the complaints are "not unfounded."

"The full list of grievances is still being compiled into a Google Doc for easier reference," Linkara wrote. "But if you would like a summary – abusive behavior, lies to the contributors, a focus on only the Nostalgia Critic as opposed to the community of talent that was promised, and many, MANY other offenses."

We have reached out to Channel Awesome for comment and will update this story if we receive a response.3

The initial complaint and Twitter campaign started with the intent to appeal to Channel Awesome's management regarding contributor treatment. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to affect change.

The trolls, however, are using that campaign as grounds for entertainment - specifically going after Doug Walker and other contributors. Doug, as the only contributor with new uploaded content, bears the brunt of their wrath.

To be clear, I am not stating that the document's authors are trolls. I'm pointing a finger at those claiming to be their "supporters".  The authors come across as denizens of Bullshit Mountain due to the troll interference.

"The biggest problem with the denizens of Bullshit Mountain is they act like their shit don't stink.  If they have success, they built it.  If they failed, the government ruined it for 'em ... It's a baffling, willfully blind cognitive dissonance..." - Jon Stewart, paraphrased.

Replace "government" with "employer/corporation/site owner/forum moderator/successful person" and it still flows the same.

A reasonable person won't remain with a company that blatantly mistreats them on such heinous levels.  Sadly, some of the former contributors have publicly stated that they only remained with Channel Awesome for the exposure. In other words, they were making money off it and didn't want to upset that funding. That admission further clouds public perspective.  "It couldn't have been as bad as you say. You stayed, man."

Some former contributors behave as though they never did wrong, all the while complaining because Channel Awesome "ruined everything".

This is why I prefer to air grievances through proper channels.  Better to remain in a controlled environment (be it severe enough to bring in an attorney, or minor enough to be addressed through a certified letter) than to allow my intentions to get skewered by third, fourth, and fifth parties. 

In an amusing twist, unaffiliated YouTubers took to making videos to degrade Channel Awesome and the individuals still associated with it.  It seems like a desperate bid to increase their own subscribers and views.

Some of the former contributors have also weighed in via their own channels. A few state their case in a civilized tone. They don't stoop to troll level.  Others are making asses of themselves, thereby damaging the group's credibility.
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Channel Awesome could report many of the unaffiliated "#changethechannel" reviews due to unauthorized use of network content. This would result in a strike on the individual's channel. Obviously Channel Awesome has not taken these steps. They don't seem petty in that light.

The trolls, however, are having a field day. Their new favorite game is "down-voting" Channel Awesome content regardless of its quality. They've taken to gloating about subscriber loss, which is easily tracked through sites such as Social Blade.  

Channel Awesome took the high ground and offered an apology to the former content providers via Twitter on April 2.

A glance at the comment section will reveal disdain.  Most of these commenters are not the content contributors nor do they have any stake in Channel Awesome, but they feel they are owed a "better" apology. Nothing Channel Awesome does or says will matter to them.

DrDonley summed it up well in his YouTube comment:

click to enlarge

On April 11, Channel Awesome provided a response to claims made in the Google document.  (Channel Awesome: Our Response.) They address some of the grievances, posting their version of the facts. This seems to have been overlooked by the trolls on YouTube.

My own opinion

I have never supported Channel Awesome as a whole. I enjoy Doug Walker's Nostalgia Critic series, as well as the varied "Tamara's never seen/Just seen" (Tamara Chambers) uploads.  The Cinema Snob (Brad Jones) wasn't bad.  I also enjoyed Todd in the Shadows (Todd Nathanson) while he was still part of the channel. Malcolm Ray, a regular on Nostalgia Critic, has his own channel - Malcolm X Ray. His stuff is worth checking out.

I don't plan on unsubscribing from Channel Awesome at this point. I'll unsubscribe if Chambers, Ray, and the Walkers abandon the channel.

I have no comment on Michael Michaud, Channel Awesome's CEO.  I can't assess him based on the Google doc alone.

Bad shit happens in every corporation, every group, every club or organization. That's life. How people respond to it makes the difference. Thus I don't have much sympathy for the contributors that started the Twitter campaign via the Google document.  It comes across as sour grapes. I don't approve of social media shit storms, either, nor the trolling that arises due to it. I have a bit of empathy for their alleged plight, but I won't treat the allegations as fact until the dust has finally settled.

In general, people need to stop feeding the trolls. They don't support the former content providers. They honestly couldn't care less about those people. They're doing this out of boredom, and to be part of something that potentially takes down a successful YouTube channel.

Those that do care - the ones that want to make a difference - take the high ground. They unsubscribe, and then they refuse to watch any content belonging to the network. The loss of revenue sends a strong message.

Silently walking away makes a stronger impression in the public mind than leaving "I'm unsubscribing! You suck! I'm gone! Hey everyone, go read the document!" in the comments.  Those commenters/trolls most likely have not unsubscribed. They're sowing discord for their own amusement.

UPDATE 17 Apr:
According to the rumor mill, Doug Walker has left Channel Awesome. It's alleged that he is in contact with a lawyer (to perhaps fight for ownership of his Nostalgia Critic rights).  Pshaw. I don't believe it for a moment.

Guess the rumor mill was wrong (again). Walker & Co have not left the channel. 


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Channel Awesome or the former contributors in any way. I'm simply someone that subscribed to the network back in the day. The "gruffchick"  moniker hearkens back to the 80s - I was an anarchist punk, an outspoken feminist, and did not mince words. Considering how many decades have passed, I should change it to "gruffbiddy". 😄

Citations (testament to my laziness)
1.  Wikipedia contributors, "Nostalgia Critic," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed April 14, 2018)

2.  Wikipedia contributors, "Nostalgia Critic Format," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed April 14, 2018)

3. Paul Tamburro, "Channel Awesome Criticized by Former Contributors for Alleged Mistreatment", Game Revolution, (accessed April 14, 2018)

Image credits
Img 1. Pyrotech07, "Nostalgia Critic", DeviantArt,  (accessed April 14, 2018)

Img 2.  Tumblr contributors, clip from an Ellis video,, (accessed April 14, 2018)  

Img 3. Wikipedia contributors, Channel Awesome Logo, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed April 14, 2018)

People have asked why I pull from Wikipedia. I know it's not necessarily accurate. However, it's a polite way of pointing the average person to a safe site. They get get off their butts and Google on their own, if the data won't suffice.  I recommend this: Click here.

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