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Channel Awesome’s sad last days
April 12, 2018/15 Comments/in Basic: Nostalgia, Basic: Thoughts, BLOGS, Chris Langs Commentaries /by Chris Lang

Tabloid headlines: The original clickbait.

Were popular (or once-popular) Internet sites covered by supermarket tabloids, it would be easy to imagine the title of this article making the covers of a few of them.

As many of you reading this are no doubt aware, Channel Awesome has suffered a serious decline in recent years. In its glory days (which would be roughly 2008 to 2012), Channel Awesome hosted not only the Nostalgia Critic, but a whole bunch of pop culture review shows, including Lindsay Ellis (formerly the Nostalgia Chick), Atop the Fourth Wall, the Spoony Experiment, The Angry Joe Show, Bennett the Sage, the Cinema Snob, MarzGurl, Phelous, Obscurus Lupa, Film Brain, Todd in the Shadows, Guru Larry, MasakoX, Oancitizen and a whole bunch of others. Later additions would include That SciFiGuy, Chris Stuckman, SFDebris, Leon Thomas’ Renegade Cut, Tony Goldmark, and more.

But even in its glory days, there were plenty of instances of mismanagement, communication failures, and questionable handling of incidents. These flaws managed to remain under control up until the time of To Boldly Flee, but afterwards were causing serious damage to the brand. There seemed to be a gradual lack of confidence and trust in the non-Chicago producers. As the years went by, many high-profile producers left, some for their own reasons and some because of disputes or disagreement with site management. Lupa and Phelous, in particular, left due to a serious falling out between them and Channel Awesome CEO Mike Michaud.

Many of you are aware of the ‘Not So Awesome’ document recently posted on Google Docs (and here’s a link to version 2.0 of the document) where a number of former contributors and staffers basically air their dirty laundry in public. They relate stories of mismanagement, neglect, and abuse, much of it attributed to Mike Michaud while the Walker brothers (Doug and Rob) ignored or dismissed complaints. This came about as a result of a huge Twitter thread and the hashtag #changethechannel where Obscurus Lupa revisited her poor treatment at Michaud’s hands and others shared their grievances. Things escalated from there: Linkara, Chris Stuckman, SFDebris, and others left Channel Awesome, and the planned 10th anniversary movie was cancelled.

As I write this, Angry Joe and MasakoX have left the site, and there are now basically seven or eight contributors left: Brad Jones (Cinema Snob), Bennett the Sage, Guru Larry, Blockbuster Buster, and a few shows I’ve never seen: Toons These Days, Bargain Boy, Battle Geek Plus, Gaming Wildlife, and Screen Crashers. Of these, Screen Crashers hasn’t posted new material to the site in months, Guru Larry only stays because he thinks it’s funny that no one knows whether he’s still with the site or not, and some are wondering how long Bennett the Sage will stay. The way things are going, it would not surprise me at all that some of the people in this paragraph will have departed by the time I actually post this.

The response Channel Awesome posted late on April 11th, 2018 did not help matters any. They largely ignored many of the points made, cherry-picking a few things to respond to, and said that former staffer Holly Christine Brown’s statements were lies without providing any counter-argument (it was basically like saying ‘Nuh-uh’ and leaving it at that). Needless to say, many people were not impressed by this, and wrote rants and responses to it calling out Michaud or whoever wrote it on their failed attempt at damage control (and if you ask me, it’s the most incompetent attempt at damage control I’ve seen outside of recent politics).

To say things are not looking good for Channel Awesome would be like saying the Titanic had a mild scratch when the iceberg hit it. I honestly don’t see a way for Channel Awesome to survive at this point. In the immortal words of Ramsay from Game of Thrones, “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Rob Walker seems to be admitting as such, posting a picture of the burning Jedi library tree from The Last Jedi before taking down his Facebook page altogether. Some are interpreting it as his acknowledgement that Channel Awesome is done for.

The question is, what does this mean for everyone involved? Well, Linkara has stated that he has made so much from his views that he doesn’t need Channel Awesome anymore (in fact, his videos make so much it’s become his full time job). Many of the others also have different outlets for their videos now, and don’t need Channel Awesome to survive.

The ones we should probably worry about are Malcolm Ray and Tamara Chambers, who appear in the relaunched Nostalgia Critic show and spinoffs such as ‘Tamara’s Never Seen’ — and of course, the Nostalgia Critic. If (and at this point, saying ‘if’ instead of ‘when’ seems overly optimistic) Channel Awesome goes down, what will become of them?

Depending on who you believe (either Holly Christine Brown or the ‘Our Response’ written by whoever), either Mike Michaud owns the rights to the Nostalgia Critic intellectual property, or it’s jointly owned by four people. Meaning that if the Walkers decide that keeping Channel Awesome around is more trouble than it’s worth and decide that (like Linkara, Lindsay, and the others) they can still get good views without Channel Awesome, they might run into trouble continuing the Nostalgia Critic unless Michaud or whoever else besides them gives the rights back to them.

The NC IP is worthless without Doug, anyway. Granted, attempts at recasting the Nostalgia Critic would be hilarious (and it’s easy to imagine the Walkers themselves making fun of the idea), but a replacement Nostalgia Critic would never be accepted by the fans.

Longtime WWE fans remember back in 1996 when Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) left the WWE to become founders of the NWO in WCW, which routinely mocked the WWE. The WWE’s response was to have two other wrestlers be the new Razor Ramon and Diesel. The replacements were universally booed by the fans – and not in the way that wrestling heels are booed. No, the boos they received were the ‘We call bullshit on this stupid corporate move’ type.

So maybe it would be best for the Walkers to retain custody of the Nostalgia Critic so they can keep doing it for as long as they want to. The thing is, Doug wanted to retire the Nostalgia Critic back in 2012 with ‘To Boldly Flee’, with the Scooby Doo review being the last Nostalgia Critic episode. He said that it was becoming stale and that just because something’s popular doesn’t mean you should keep doing it (a statement James Daniel Walsh and I defended at the time). It was only after his new project Demo Reel ended up being a poorly received failure that he ended up bringing back the Nostalgia Critic. While the change in format (new cast members, ditching the various memes and running gags) might have breathed some life back into the concept (and there’s a lot of post-relaunch NC episodes I like), the fact remains that the Walkers wanted to move on but couldn’t due to the financial loss they and Channel Awesome faced after the sudden retirement of the Nostalgia Critic.

If they lose custody of the Nostalgia Critic, they might end up having Doug play a ‘Captain Ersatz’ of the Nostalgia Critic. A character that has a different name and doesn’t have the catchphrase (or the coat, the tie, and the hat) but is suspiciously similar. Basically this would be to the Nostalgia Critic what the Irate Gamer was to the Angry Video Game Nerd, only in this case it’d also be played by Doug Walker. However, I would like to think the Walkers would not go down this route.

However, many are of the opinion that Doug shouldn’t really be doing the Nostalgia Critic in 2018 anyway. He’s gotten older, and the act has still gotten stale. Perhaps it is time for the Walkers to move on, though I really wish it wasn’t under circumstances like this. Ideally, they’d retain the rights to the NC, do a few more episodes on Youtube or wherever, and then move on under their own terms.

I say this because despite all the Walkers’ ignoring and dismissing concerns and their creative differences, I still (at this writing) respect them as reviewers/entertainers even if they’re completely incompetent as far as the business side of things goes. They (and the controversial CEO Mike Michaud) clearly never really knew what they were doing, business-wise. Some of the producers stayed with the site longer than they should have, trying to offer suggestions to fix things (most of which were ignored) or just staying out of the drama as much as they could. But many of them, especially the latest round of departures, left when they realized things were not going to get better.

All in all, it’s a sad situation. In its glory days, Channel Awesome seemed to live up to its name. There were dozens of producers providing pop culture commentary, sometimes doing crossovers and giving each other added promotion. These videos were fun, and often a lot more entertaining than the movies, shows, comics, and games they were reviewing. Sadly, just like the forms of entertainment they reviewed, there was a lot of behind the scenes unpleasantness, and a failure to listen to people or learn from mistakes.

Like others on this site, I’m not mad. Just disappointed. To be honest, I stopped going to the site itself after To Boldly Flee and just kept up with my favorites on Blip (before it went down) and Youtube. And as time went on, I’ve had less time to keep up with them in general.

In the end, I think Channel Awesome was destined to fade into irrelevance. The failure to evolve combined with the fact that many of its most popular contributors don’t even need Channel Awesome anymore to get lots of views pretty much made it inevitable even without all the bad stuff going on. Channel Awesome is pretty much finished … but as Chester A. Bum said after seeing Ask That Guy get killed off in the final ‘Ask That Guy’ episode, perhaps it’s for the best.

Most of Channel Awesome’s talent has already moved on. It’s time for the Walkers to move on, too.

Still, it’s the end of an era. And it’s sad that it has to end this way.

Tags: #changethechannel, Channel Awesome, Nostalgia Critic, Not So Awesome

 

When originally posted, this blog received the following replies.

chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 15, 2018 at 2:16 am

Indeed, people I mentioned that I said hadn’t left yet have now left.

Here’s E-Rod (Blockbuster Buster) on his departure from Channel Awesome. He, like just about everyone else who’s left the past month (over 20 departures), ran out of reasons to stay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a2LDrbtwlA

And he’s not the only one. Here’s a Twitter post.

Slice
‏ @TheSliceMusic
Apr 12
Replying to @Jarrecko

Blockbuster Buster, Brad Jones, and Gaming Life have all left. Guru Larry is still on the site just for shits and giggles. All hail our new overlord! #ChannelLarry
2 replies 2 retweets 14 likes

So, yes. Most of the people I mentioned in the post above have now left, and Guru Larry is only staying ironically, leading to a bunch of memes being posted on Twitter under the #ChannelLarry hashtag. Such as one parodying the Channel Awesome page saying it features “Home of Guru Larry … and Guru Larry”.

Again, from Twitter:
Mr. “How many characters do I have on here?”Macias
‏ @Saicam_Films
8h8 hours ago

@ChannelAwesome will turn into #ChannelLarry next week. We’ll have more content than ever, starting with Nostalgia Larry, That Guru Named Larry, Bum Larry Reviews, and finally the season long search for Guru Chick. All hail the new king! #ChangeTheChannel

—-

All I can say is that at least some people are having a little fun with this whole sad situation.
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chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 13, 2018 at 2:29 pm

As a further illustration of the point that Channel Awesome is more or less irrelevant these days, someone compiled a list of where we can find many of our favorite producers. Of course, most of us knew that Linkara, Cinema Snob, Phelous, and others had their own sites and Youtube channels, but the fact that someone created a lengthy list like this further indicates Channel Awesome’s fall into irrelevance.

Though again, sadly, the point remains that had CA management learned from their mistakes, listened to people, and worked with them to fix things, many of these people would still be at Channel Awesome.
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les
les says:
April 13, 2018 at 5:03 am

Hi Chris Lang. Well considered, and well written, my friend. You’ve summarized a lot of what we’ve all been feeling regarding the managment nightmare at CA. I figure in another month the label Channel Awesome won’t stand for anything and The Nostalgia Critic will shut down shop and put the final nail in the coffin built by Michaud. At least, I hope the Walkers walk away from the sinking ship. It’s almost like the way the “Colonel” owned Elvis Presley through his contract. It’s just so tragic and sad. Anyways, great article. Peace.
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risingofthethorn
risingofthethorn says:
April 13, 2018 at 3:18 am

What makes me sad about all of this is much like Toys R Us, I don’t think it had to end this way, there are plenty of critics out their who have kept the same formula for the most part (Razorfist and Mrenter comes to mind) and many are doing better than ever, I put this solely on the bad management side especially if rumors are true about Doug not even being the one to pick his reviews, I’ll give this warning to mike in the form of a star wars quote

“The more you tighten your grip, the more producers and customers will slip through your fingers.
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t-kun-unusual-wordsmith-iii
t-kun-unusual-wordsmith-iii says:
April 13, 2018 at 2:09 am

Everyone very covered the basics here and I do hope that you felt better getting this off your chest. Sorry for how things turned out, I sounds like it cut you deep. Again, so sorry.
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nitwit
nitwit says:
April 13, 2018 at 12:10 am

I’m sad about everything at Channel Awesome. I will miss everyone from that site and screw Mike for hiding Pedo JewWario from us. BugsyNoName was a fan of JewWario that he added him on Skype. 🙁
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chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 13, 2018 at 12:33 am

I heard about the revelation that JewWario was the unnamed producer taking advantage of a naive young girl in a sexual manner (‘grooming’ her) while I was in the midst of writing this. A very disturbing revelation, especially since he seemed like one of the nicest guys on the site. It just goes to show you can never really tell sometimes.

Anyway, many of the people from the site are still actively doing videos even if they’re no longer affiliated with CA. Linkara, Lindsay, Angry Joe, and others have found ways to continue without Channel Awesome, and no longer need it to survive.
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risingofthethorn
risingofthethorn says:
April 13, 2018 at 4:26 am

As we speak, there are only two people left beside the main three that are on CA
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richb
richb says:
April 12, 2018 at 11:45 pm

CA, and specifically Doug Walker, have been very important to me for several years and that is something that will always be there even if the site isn’t. I had considered doing my own blog like this but really I have nothing to say, except to wax nostalgic but I’ve kinda already done that in other articles. I guess it’s true, All Good Things Must Come to an END. 🙁
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chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 13, 2018 at 12:38 am

Indeed. As Todd in the Shadows pointed out on Twitter, it’s kind of ironic to be nostalgic about a site founded around criticizing nostalgia (the whole concept of the Nostalgia Critic is taking off the rose colored glasses and noticing the flaws of the various movies of our childhood), but they did manage to put out some entertaining material in the golden days. It’s sad that it fell apart and all that backstage drama happened, but sometimes things turn out that way. And in the end, I think Channel Awesome would have still eventually lost relevance even without all the drama.
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ryoko368
ryoko368 says:
April 12, 2018 at 10:55 pm

To be frank, I will not be too sad if CA does shut down for good. They brought it upon themselves, at this rate.
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chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 12, 2018 at 11:04 pm

They did bring it on themselves with their mismanagement and their failure to listen to people. I suppose the CA I’m sad for already went away around 2012 (but as I said, I stopped going to the actual site sometime after then and only followed my favorites elsewhere). I’m honestly surprised they lasted past 2015 given how things kept getting bad and CA management didn’t listen to suggestions from Linkara and others on how to turn things around.
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moviefan
moviefan says:
April 12, 2018 at 10:45 pm

Yeah, it’s time for Channel Awesome to close up shop.
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jim-bevan
jim-bevan says:
April 12, 2018 at 10:32 pm

It is very disappointing that it turned out like this.But considering everything that’s come out, this collapse was coming for a while now.
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chris-lang
chris-lang says:
April 12, 2018 at 10:46 pm

In all honestly, I’m surprised Channel Awesome lasted THIS long, all things considered.
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