The Theatrical Implosion of Channel Awesome


Channel Awesome is experiencing a SHTF moment. Several former members of their talent have come forward and have alleged wrongdoing in a long Google Docs file.

The Google Docs file can be read here.

As a result of fan backlash, Channel Awesome’s YouTube channel has experienced a dip in subscribers. As of this posting, periodic refreshing of their channel’s page shows their subscriber count steadily falling. It’s kind of amusing to watch.

The debacle is interesting and somewhat disappointing to behold considering that the names and faces involved are entertainers that many of us have enjoyed over the years, and we’d like to imagine that online companies are above the politics associated with traditional media. The alleged mismanagement of Channel Awesome and mistreatment of its talent shows that this is not the case, and can be a real slap in the face for those of us who elevate online content producers.

To be realistic, it really isn’t unusual to work with and for people who make decisions that you don’t immediately understand or who don’t seem to have any idea what’s going on. I think we all experience that to some degree. You can probably think of a few experiences of your own.

As for me, one of my previous jobs had me work with an old man who was my supervisor. The problem was, the old man was clearly well past the point of senility, and seldom (if ever) produced anything of value. For the most part, the rest of the staff joked about him and merely tolerated him, even as he racked up overtime pay just to socialize. We had a nickname for the guy: Deadwood. After a while, I came to find out that upper management was well aware of how useless Deadwood was, and the reason why he was still employed was because Deadwood was friends with the company president. A little while after that, I parted ways with the company and went on to work someplace else, and I later found out that two people were hired to replace me (no joke), but after Deadwood finally left, someone else was made supervisor, but he otherwise wasn’t replaced.

It’s really nothing unusual that you work with and under people who don’t know or do your job as well as you do, and this seems to be more and more prevalent the more technical your job is. With large websites like Channel Awesome, there’s a lot of potential for someone to be in charge whose job was merely to be in charge, and issue orders regardless of whether they have any idea what it takes to produce the content (believe it or not, it takes more to make videos than just pointing a camera at someone and turning it on).

What’s really alarming are the allegations of chauvinism favoring the men, and mistreatment of the female talent. One of the complaints was about a rape scene which was changed due to objections from the talent, but more alarming still was that one of the women was physically suspended to the point of fainting!

We should all know at this point that the truth of a matter is not determined by mere allegation. Though as more people come forward with the same allegation, it increasingly shows that they aren’t just some pie-in-the-sky complaints from disgruntled former workers. Not only that, other staff members have responded by leaving the company, which lends weight to the claim that there was something seriously wrong.

Fans have likewise responded by withdrawing from the Channel Awesome viewership. This being the case, it’s going to be interesting to see how Channel Awesome copes with this negative publicity, or whether they could recover from it. I would think that other media companies that have had similarly bad practices would take note and come to understand just how severely things can backfire when the talent is mistreated.

Even non-media companies can take note of how these events are playing out. After all, companies are composed of people who bring something of value, and if the people are mistreated, the company is setting itself up for disaster.

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