Coming Attractions…and Leaving Producers

We try to avoid dishing dirt or making posts about current events here on Twinsanity; we generally try to keep things light and stick to the pop-culture fun, but in the wake of the plans we’ve made for the site recently, I thought this was a timely thing to discuss.

In one of life’s great ironies, shortly after Jason and myself have chosen to largely move away from text posts in favor of videos (something we’ve been wanting to do for some time), there has recently been this mass exodus of content creators jumping ship on one of the more prominent entertainment/pop culture aggregate sites on the internet right now, Channel Awesome.

Channel Awesome Logo

Just yesterday, we read that longtime CA producer Lewis Lovhaug (a.k.a. Linkara of Atop the 4th Wall fame) has departed from Channel Awesome. (He actually left last week apparently, but we only just got the news yesterday morning.) On that same day, another producer, Mike Jeavons (Mike J) announced he was leaving, then shortly afterward yet another producer, Diamanda Hagan, announced her departure from the site, then we found out that 3 other producers: Todd Nathanson (Todd in the Shadows), Will Dufrense (Suede) and Darren Jackson (Rap Critic) have also parted ways with Channel Awesome. So that’s 6 prominent internet reviewers/personalities who have left CA in this short space of time, and this wasn’t the first case of such departures: last year, Dena Netalli (Cyborcat) announced her departure from the site, and yet another producer, Chad Rocco (CR!) was fired from CA late last year. Two other notable producers, Allison Pregler (Obscurus Lupa) and Phelan Porteous (Phelous) had a VERY noticeably ugly breakup with Channel Awesome, and having watched their live stream this past New Year’s Eve, it’s clearly still a touchy subject with them; they and their friends spent a sizable portion of the stream mocking CA and its’ top brass. Yet another producer, Lindsay Ellis (the artist formerly known as the Nostalgia Chick–a title she never relished, BTW) cut ties with Channel Awesome a while ago. Another Chez Apocalypse producer, Kyle Kallgren (Oancitizen) likewise departed from CA some time ago.

I’ve never personally worked with Channel Awesome, so I don’t possess firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the site, but I’ve heard things about how CA is run, and not all of them have been positive. (More detailed info on the inner turmoil at CA can be found in various places throughout the internet.) The basic gist of it is that Channel Awesome (formerly ThatGuyWithTheGlasses) is owned by one Mike Michaud and fronted by Doug Walker (the Nostalgia Critic), who’s basically the face of the site. Word is that Mr. Michaud isn’t the easiest person to work with; he’s known as something of a tyrant who’s not transparent with his dealings and interactions with his contributors, he’s known for being hard to get a hold of and he, Doug Walker and Doug’s brother Rob (a behind the scenes personality at CA) have been accused on numerous occasions of purposely focusing the site on just the Nostalgia Critic at the expense of the other producers and not paying or properly compensating–or even acknowledging–the other content creators or their contributions.

All of this news cuts me to the quick; I regularly watch and enjoy the content of many of these people. Several of them are what initially inspired me to want to go into video production (Phelous and Allison in particular are personal heroes of mine whose work I aspire to emulate in my own way). For a long time I fantasized about being part of an online entertainment hub like Channel Awesome or NormalBoots; presently as of this writing the only producers I follow who are still on CA are Mathew Buck (Film Brain), Tony Goldmark (Some Jerk with a Camera), Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob), Elisa Hansen (Maven of the Eventide), Joe Vargas (Angry Joe) and Eric Rodriguez (The Blockbuster Buster). Lewis’ departure was particularly shocking to me; I NEVER thought Linkara would ever leave CA. Don’t get me wrong, I know entertainment is a business and it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, I’m not delusional, but to hear about all of this ugly business at CA and so many talented people getting burned and walking away from the site is just a tad disheartening, especially for someone like me who has only just now decided to follow in the footsteps of these amazingly talented individuals.

I guess it’s not so bad; at this point these folks have substantial followings as well as Patreon accounts, it’s not like any of them need Channel Awesome to survive. I follow most of their work on YouTube anyway.

Our plans for Twinsanity haven’t changed: we’re still going forward with video production; I can no longer avoid the fact that over time I’ve really become bored with just making text posts. Going back to Linkara, one of the things that gave me the incentive to try this new venture was when Lewis mentioned that started his internet career making text reviews before deciding to switch to videos after being inspired by the Nostalgia Critic and ThatGuyWithTheGlasses/Channel Awesome. I also still don’t think that aggregate sites like CA are a bad idea in principle, and would still like to be part of such a site if we can find a group of like-minded individuals (provided things are kept small and intimate; one of the many complaints people have with CA is that it’s run like a corporation rather than a community of friends like TGWTG was), but at this point it seems clear that Channel Awesome isn’t going to be that place. They’ll probably never ask me to join, but I’ve become very wary of CA now, this number of dissatisfied producers jumping ship on the site isn’t something to be ignored, Mike Michaud clearly doesn’t seem to give a crud about anyone not named Doug Walker.

This is not to spite those who have chosen to stay at Channel Awesome; they have their reasons for remaining loyal and if they can find success and gain followings there, then more power to them, nor is this meant to be a knock against Doug or Rob Walker; I still enjoy the Nostalgia Critic and the Walkers’ other videos (ironically I enjoy their Sibling Rivalries and Real Thoughts more then the NC videos these days), though there are other producers whose work I enjoy more, but for me the prospect of joining Channel Awesome, which used to be a dream of mine, has now just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Advertisements

13 Comments

  1. I am but a simple fan, but here’s my two cents about the situation from all I’ve read on Twitter.

    Back when it happened, I was blown away by the things that came out about Allison’s experience and subsequent firing (though, it’s not technically firing them since they were never employees, which is kinda one of the issues they had, so I guess I’ll say ‘dismissal’) along with Phelan and Andrew Dickman. They were removed so callously, and, if I recall correctly, the only notification on CA about their departure made it sound like whoever wrote it (Probably Mike) was happy they left. Hearing the kind of stuff Allison reportedly endured made me very angry because I’ve been a fan of her for years, and she seems like a great person (She was even nice enough to direct me to the episodes of Big Wolf on Campus).

    However, I didn’t know Doug and Rob were entwined in the problem so heavily. The fact that they, supposedly, are only responding to complaints and comments about this with silence, bannings and blockings is really telling of their stance here, in my opinion.

    Seeing the huge influx of stories from CA contributors on #ChangeTheChannel and seeing so many people that I grew to love and learn from on that site leave is unbelievable (I didn’t even realize CR got fired until you wrote this. What did he get fired for?) It’s perfectly understandable – in fact, good for them, but it’s like the end of an era to me. Like you, I was also shocked Lewis decided to leave, but I get it. He has pretty strong feelings about this whole situation and he gets plenty of views and revenue from his own site, Patreon and Youtube page. I was baffled that he was unceremoniously wiped from the site. Everyone else has had the same thing happen, but Lewis was such a massive presence on CA since the beginning, so it seems even colder to do that to him.

    With Patreon, most of the producers don’t even need CA anymore. I was slightly worried about Mike Jeavons, but he recently tweeted that like .03% of his views or revenue came from third-party sources, like CA, so he’s fine. I think everyone else will be too.

    Despite really liking NC for nearing a decade, I can’t help but say that I don’t really enjoy his newer stuff anyway. He makes editorials that I enjoy, but his regular reviews are such a massive bulk of skits and his style is kinda wearing thin on me. So many reviewers are more insightful and funnier while being much more subtle.

    It’s a shame to see the place burn up like this after enjoying it for so long, but the producers are still around doing their thing and many wrongs may be righted. Truth be told, I followed most of them through their own sites or Youtube anyway since I don’t much care for their layout. Aggregate sites can be cool if the community is given the focus. I still visit some of them like Geek Vision and Manic-Expression. However, it seems like it’s been a very long time since CA had a focus on community, even back in the good ol’ days, if the anniversary stories are to be believed.

    I don’t blame you for not feeling comfortable wanting to be a part of CA. I imagine it’s fun to be a part of a site like that if it’s run properly. If I had video making chops, I’d probably want to partake in it, too. There’s still hope for greener pastures, though. Maybe you could even make your own aggregate site. 🙂

    (Also, sorry for the text wall. I’ve been sitting on this since this started and haven’t been able to find any other place to vent a little lol.)

    Like

  2. silverstar

    “I didn’t even realize CR got fired until you wrote this. What did he get fired for?”

    I’m fuzzy on the details, but as I understand it, Chad did some artwork (a title card, I think) for one of the higher-ups at Channel Awesome, and once CR indicated that he was counting on getting paid, said boss responded by giving him the boot. It’s a shame how Michaud and co. don’t feel like they have to compensate anyone outside of Team Critic and those who are concentrated in the Chicago area. (One reason Mike J left was because he and the other European producers aside from Film Brain were routinely left out of the anniversary videos without even so much as being asked, and when Mike contributed ‘Internet Dating and Me’ for The Uncanny Valley, he was not paid a dime, in fact Mike lost money on that video since he had to pay for hotel services and the like. On YouTube Mike J related a heart-wrenching tale of how he was at a con with another CA producer, and they were approached by a fan who gave the other producer some hand-drawn fan art, which the other producer tossed into the trash once the fan had left.)

    Phelous did the animation for the original Channel Awesome title card, as well as some of the animations for To Boldly Flee, and not only did he not get paid for his work, but Michaud accused Phelan of “half-assing” his work on TBF and even sent Mat “Welshy” Walsh to ‘spy’ on him in order to prove such. How he and Allison were treated on CA really galls my gizzard.

    “Despite really liking NC for nearing a decade, I can’t help but say that I don’t really enjoy his newer stuff anyway. He makes editorials that I enjoy, but his regular reviews are such a massive bulk of skits and his style is kinda wearing thin on me. So many reviewers are more insightful and funnier while being much more subtle.”

    While I can appreciate what Doug is trying to do with his new, post-The Review Must Go On videos, basically incorporating elements of Demo Reel into the new Critic episodes, at the same time, while I don’t hate Doug’s new NC episodes (I still watch ’em every week), I admit that this new style isn’t really my thing, though I did enjoy some of them, like his 2 Bay Turtles reviews with James AVGN Rolfe and Andre ‘Black Nerd’ Meadows, and his Dragon Ball Evolution crossover with Little Kuribo and Masoko X. There are some funny moments, but overall the new NCs are much bigger and more elaborate than they need to be; not everything has to a big, splashy, narrative-laden production. I respect Doug and his work and admire his success, but IMO he’s not the best internet personality out there, or even my favorite CA personality; presently Tony Goldmark (Some Jerk with a Camera) holds that title.

    Like

  3. Honestly, I haven’t had much reason to watch anything on Channel Awesome since so many producers have flocked to (or returned to, in some cases) YouTube after the Blip shutdown. Pretty much the only videos that I generally watch on CA are the stuff with Doug and Rob and to a lesser extent, Nostalgia Critic, and that’s mainly because Doug runs the NC episodes on Vimeo a the day before they run on YouTube.

    Speaking of Nostalgia Critic, I’m part of the camp that prefers the older NC episodes to the current ones. The new NCs are over produced and just try to accomplish too much in a single video, what with the story lines, messages and such. It seems as though Mike Michaud wants (or originally wanted) for CA to just be Doug Walker (Nostalgia Critic)’s homepage, and if that’s truly the case, why didn’t they just do that, especially if the other producers barely get a nod or acknowledgement?

    In regards to myself and Damon starting our own aggregate site; we started our own message board/forum years ago called Planet Cartoon (it was originally going to be called Cartoon Planet, but Turner studios owns that name). PC consisted of myself, Damon and some friends that we made on the TV Tome (later TV.com) forums. Basically, we got fed up with the TV Tome forums and Damon and I decided to launch our own forum so that we could converse with our friends without having to deal with the annoying members and dictatorial moderators/administrators over at TV.com. As for creating our own entertainment hub, I wouldn’t be against that, but I’d only want to do it if a) we could find enough people to collaborate with, as Damon mentioned above, and b) If all of us would collectively share the workload. PC was fun, but it was also a lot of work. Damon and I were doing everything there ourselves. No one was helping us with the maintenance, security and so forth. Honestly, I’d rather have someone else handle the business side of the site, so that I could be free to mostly just create. I would be a founding member with the clout and respect that comes with that title, but I wouldn’t want to take on the entire workload of this hypothetical site. Also, I’d prefer to keep the roster of said site pretty small. Ideally, I’d just like for it to be us and some friends making videos and occasionally collaborating with each other. I wouldn’t want for our site to transform into a corporation the way that Channel Awesome did.

    Wow! That ended up being longer than I planned it to be!

    Like

  4. I’ve always preferred Mr. Coat and Friends over CA, anyway. The site layout has always remained simple and not increasingly convoluted as the years went by, and its creator and owner isn’t a jackass. Furthermore, the producers can take as long as they want to make their videos without being forced into arbitrary deadlines.

    Whenever you decide to get into video content, I think you’ll have a better shot with them instead of CA.

    Like

  5. silverstar

    Never heard of Mr. Coat until now; I’ll have to check him out. We’re not actively trying to seek out a community right now since we’re still on training wheels, but once we get going, maybe we’ll eventually get someone’s attention.

    We’ve already decided to make the move to video content; it’s something we’ve both wanted to do for a long time, in fact several of the blog posts that we’ve done here over the past few years (especially recently) were originally conceived as videos and had to be altered into text and still picture form. We’re presently putting everything together: scripts, props, etc. and learning to film and edit by ear. Right now we’re using Movavi software, and have shot a few test videos; they’re each only a few seconds long, but you know, baby steps. But Twinsanity going video is definitely going to happen. It’s an itch we’ve been wanting to scratch for a considerable while, and I can’t really see myself (or Jason) just doing blog posts anymore at this stage. You gotta start following your dreams sometime; it might as well be now.

    Like

    • Yeah, even after we get the hang of making videos, it looks like we won’t be joining Channel Awesome anytime soon. I’m not on social media, but currently whenever I go to YouTube, I will inevitably get recommended to me a new video about some content creator ranting about how awful Channel Awesome is. And frankly, I don’t know how much of this is people who are legitimately appalled by CA executive staff and the decisions that they’ve made over the years and how much of it is just folks bandwagon jumping on hating something popular in order to get those sweet clicks.

      In any case, despite all of the noise, I doubt very much that Channel Awesome will shut down. Mike Michaud won’t be fired, since there’s no executive committee to forcibly remove him, and even if Doug and Rob wanted to part ways with Michaud, they couldn’t take the Nostalgia Critic with them, because Michaud owns the rights to the character, and I’m sure at this point in their lives/careers, the Walker brothers probably figure it’s not worth the hassle to leave CA and start over. Unfortunately, if you want to work with Doug Walker, you have to deal with Michaud. CA will likely just shift it’s focus to be mostly about Doug and his team’s content. Up and coming content creators will likely be wary of joining CA in the future, as being part of CA no longer has the prestige that it once had, but CA is not just going to disappear or burn to the ground. Honestly, an aggregate site such as Channel Awesome isn’t really necessary these days unless or until there’s another video hosting site that can successfully compete with YouTube.

      But hey, perhaps some of these other content producers could get together and launch their own aggregate site and run it the way that it should be run. Of course, such a site would need someone well known at the helm in order to bring in viewers. Linkara, Phelous and Brad already have their own sites. Lindsay could conceivably be the face of such a site, but after Chez Apocalypse ending after the Blip shutdown, I’m not sure if she’d be interested in doing it.

      Like

  6. silverstar

    And then there were 11. As of this writing, Film Brain, Chris Stuckmann, The Dom, Calluna, Some Jerk with a Camera, Brandon T, Ask Lovecraft, Sursum Ursa, Maven of the Eventide and Yomarz have all jumped ship. Currently the only content creators whose work I follow who are still on Channel Awesome (aside from the Walkers, obviously) are Brad Jones, Guru Larry, Angry Joe, Battle Geek Plus and the Blockbuster Buster (all of whom I usually watch on YouTube anyway), and I don’t see any of them splitting any time soon.

    It would be funny–well, not ‘ha-ha’ funny, but kind of ironic–if some of these disgruntled former CA producers got together and formed their own aggregate site, not that those are really needed anymore, but just to kind of rub it in Michaud’s face.

    EDIT: Now Angry Joe and MasakoX have departed. Pretty soon they’ll be no one left on CA besides Doug Walker and his team.

    Like

  7. It’s done. All the contributors have left.

    Like

    • silverstar

      Almost. Aside from Doug’s people, it’s just Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob) and Larry Bundy, Jr. (Guru Larry) now. Brad is either under contract or is just loyal, and Larry’s still there for the LOLs. Either way, as I said in the original post, I’m not going to slight the producers who chose to stay…all 2 of them. I just don’t need to go to the CA site any more, since I can catch these guys on YouTube.

      CA is undergoing HUGE damage control now…I read somewhere that the Walker Brothers are working on a video response to all of this, according to Malcolm Ray and Tamara Chambers, anyway. If this is true, I’m dying to see how they’re going to spin this story; they can’t possibly do a worse job than Michaud did.

      You know, I had dreamed of joining an aggregate site like Channel Awesome for years now, but currently staying independent like James Rolfe (Cinemassacre) or Andre Meadows (Black Nerd Company) is sounding better and better.

      Like

  8. I’m hearing that Brad Jones and Eric Rodriguiez (The Blockbutser Buster) have left the site, but they’re both still listed on Channel Awesome front page.

    As bad as things look right now, I still don’t believe that this is the end of Channel Awesome. Sure, CA is most likely done as an aggregate site, but it’s not finished. Most likely, Michaud will shift CA’s focus to be exclusively about Doug and the Chicago crew, since that has always been the site’s main focus anyway. Likewise, I don’t believe that Doug’s career is over. If PewDePie and JonTron came back from their regrettable incidents, then Doug can survive this. Regardless of what you think of Nostalgia Critic as of late, Doug still has fans and a following. CA would only go down in flames if Doug and Mike Michaud were to part ways and if Michaud were to try to run CA or NC without the Walkers being involved.

    Man, I’ve seen some things these past couple of years that have been downright surreal…

    Like

  9. Channel Awesome is being deprecated and rebranded.

    Like

    • silverstar

      I figured as much. They’re probably just going to focus mainly–if not exclusively– on the Chicago based contributors (Doug, Rob, Malcolm, Tamara, Barney, Jim Jarosz, the Awesome Comics/Orbit Report guys, et al) and not even bother with the aggregate format; it’s not like they could get a bunch of other producers to join them now anyway, given how toxic CA is now known to be. Kinda sucks, but if Doug and company truly aren’t having problems with Michaud, then it’s their right and prerogative to stay if they so choose. Since it’s clear that Channel Awesome will never again be what it once was, this is probably for the best, but like I said previously, it’s not like some of these other folks can’t get together and start their own aggregate site, even though that concept as a whole isn’t really needed as much anymore.

      And with that, I’m basically done discussing this. The damage has been done, and if any of CA’s former producers are ever going to get the apology that they so greatly deserve, it’s clearly not going to be done publicly. I still think Michaud’s actions are/were appalling, but ultimately it’s not our call to make, and we can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. I’ll continue to watch the Walkers’ videos as long as I find them entertaining, even if their CEO is a jackass.

      Like

  10. Makes sense. They’d have a hard time getting new producers to come aboard at this point, and aggregate sites aren’t really a thing any more, what with YouTube being the way that it is now, and like Silverstar already said; if any of the former Channel Awesome producers want to get together and launch their own aggregate site, nothing’s stopping them from doing so. They wouldn’t need Doug, Rob or Michaud for that. Eventually, this whole unfortunate business will just get swept under the rug and forgotten by the general public.

    Some of us wanted to see a major change happen on Channel Awesome, such as Doug leaving or letting Mike Michaud go, but here’s the thing: Doug Walker doesn’t owe us an apology. Would it be nice if Doug and/or Rob were to issue a public statement regarding this unpleasantness? Sure it would, but they don’t need to apologize to me, or to you or to any of the fans because none of us have been wronged by them in any way. The only people who need to be apologized to are the former producers who were mistreated or whose complaints were ignored by CA’s management, and that could’ve been done privately and not made into a public spectacle.

    While I find Mike Michaud’s actions to be repugnant, I have no dog in this fight. I’m going to continue watching Doug’s videos until I no longer find them entertaining.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: