To be honest, I went back and forth on this decision for about a month. Part of me really wanted to carry on supporting Rooster Teeth, but than there was this other part of me was saying it was time to go. Please don't misread this. I AM STILL A HUGE FAN, but RT has changed a lot and recent events made me have to reconsider.
I've never posted a journal before so I think I'm just going to take a few minutes here to recap my experience with RT from the beginning. You can skip to the last couple blocks of text if you just want to know why I cancelled.
I discovered Rooster Teeth at the perfect time in my life. I was 18. It was my first year of college. I was with a couple buddies working on a script for a writing class. We had done about 15 solid minutes of work over a 4 hour period. The rest of the time we just goofed off, showed each other random YouTube videos, talked about video games, movies, whatever. It was late at night when they pulled up the RTAA 'Michael Meets a Drug Dealer.' It was hilarious. I almost died laughing. We watched about 3 more episodes together and I was completely hooked. I started listening to the RT Podcast the following week after watching every single RTAA that was available at the time. I had the podcast on wherever I went. It was the first 100 episodes or so that helped me through my first ever heartbreak. Listening to the voices of the RT cast (Burnie, Gus, Matt, Geoff, Griffon, Jack, Gavin, Brandon, Joel) and hearing all their stories - it really comforted me in that time. (I also have a weirdly good knowledge of local Austin food spots as a consequence)
In "real life" I made lifelong friendships because of RT. Hell, I became roommates with 4 different people over our mutual love of Achievement Hunter Let's Plays and RvB episodes. In 2016, I took the plunge and went to RTX for the first time. I went by myself because of scheduling conflicts, but waiting in line at the theater I met an awesome group of friends who were Texas-local and they welcomed me into their circle for the weekend. I've never felt more accepted by a community. Also on that trip I had the amazing fortune of bumping into Barbara, Jon Risinger, Chris, and Brandon (who are as kind and genuine in person as they are on screen). Big moment came at the "Founding Fathers" Panel. I got to the mic for Q&A and asked Burnie about vlogging (heckled back and forth for a minute) and they generously agreed to sign a chattering teeth wind-up toy I had been carrying around with me. I keep that on my desk to this day.
I have loved being apart of this community and I am by no means leaving any of that behind.
As far as supporting RT as a FIRST member goes...well I'll give you my reasons now.
In general, I'm just not the fan that I used to be anymore. People change. Tastes change. The original AH crew that I watched countless hours of has grown by a lot (which is good for them, seriously! I mean that). The trade-off is that there is so much content they churn out I find it impossible to keep up with. Off Topic was one of my favorite new podcasts when it started out...but at 2.5+ hours an episode, I honestly just didn't have enough hours in the day to listen. I tuned out more and more until one day it had been about a year since I had watched an Achievement Hunter video. I realized I didn't miss it all that much.
Besides AH, I also stopped following other RT shows that I previously really loved. CampCamp. Million Dollars But. RWBY (more on that in a minute). Immersion (I literally just found out there was a season 5 in 2017 as I was writing this). Just to name a few - and please don't get me wrong, all these shows are great and the people involved are amazing, but it all became a build-up of "I'll get to that later" and later just never came. Over time disinterest waned and than I just forgot about them. Big example of this: 2014 me was PUMPED for Lazer Team. I backed the Kickstarter, bought two posters, framed the challenge coin that came as a perk, and hosted a viewing party with my best friends when the movie came out. It was my last night in town before I moved out of state and that's how I wanted to spend it. Cut to today (2019) I still haven't watched 'Lazer Team 2' and I never felt like I missed out on anything.
So at this point I only had one reason for cancelling FIRST (mainly growing disinterest) but I stuck around and kept the sub because why the hell not? Even, if I was watching as much, I still loved RT and wanted to support them. Plus, it wasn't that much...I'm fuzzy on the price point but I think I was paying around $12/ 6mos. Affordable.
What happened next that could have changed that? Let's talk about RWBY and RT animation.
So if you love RWBY and everything about it, and it's your favorite show ever, than I'm happy for you (and I don't want to ruin your enjoyment - so maybe skip this part). In my opinion RWBY started out strong. It was this amazing passion project with big ideas for storytelling and action animation. In the first two seasons you could feel the love an dedication that went into it (even if the production value wasn't quite there yet). Now, I'm not trying to "hate on" Miles or Kerry or Gray - I think they wanted to do their best in taking over RWBY after Monty's unfortunate passing (RIP Monty, love and miss you), but to be honest the show just hasn't ever been the same since. My main criticism is the over-exposition in seasons 3 and 4. Animated characters just sitting or standing in rooms or open areas spouting off dialogue and narrative plot points for entire episodes at a time. Ignoring the golden rule: show don't tell. I was frustrated watching RWBY - I wanted to like it so badly and I just didn't. There were only a handful of scenes that really shined.
(I want to take another minute here to mention: if you do like the show that's good for you and I'm glad - I'm also not trying to disparage the cast or crew, who I know worked very hard)
In my own opinion RWBY was a big letdown. It might be good in the eyes of many, but it had the potential to be something really exceptionally great.
That in and of itself wasn't enough of a reason to cancel my FIRST membership. The real reason is related however...
Earlier this year it was made known the some employees of the RT animation staff (freelancers who were brought in to work on temp contracts) had to work a disproportionate number of hours during crunch in order to complete genLOCK and RWBY. It appears that they were not properly compensated for this overtime (and in any case) had to go public with this information in order to get the wage they deserved. This is completely unacceptable in my opinion. I know Matt Hullum has addressed this issue in a journal post, owning up to the mistake and highlighting some points they will take to avoid this in the future - but the fact remains: it should have never happened in the first place. RT isn't a small company putting up 1 or 2 videos a week anymore and this treatment of employees just doesn't fly in the industry. This is the primary reason that after 5 years I can no longer in good conscience continue to support RT financially by being a FIRST member.
So that's that. There's a few other miscellaneous reasons. Not too long after the RT animation controversy there was an announcement that FIRST membership prices would be increasing (maybe not the best timing there, yeah?) I also think the website is just kind of a mess with the community site being almost entirely separate from the video site. When I was watching genLOCK (a FIRST only show) the end of each episode didn't auto play into the next...instead some random video was in the queue (as if the entire archive of RT content was on shuffle or something). This is a SUPER nit-picky little thing, but it's just another example of a lack of attention to detail. Speaking about FIRST exclusives by the way...this goes back to my point about just not having time. I'm a FIRST member that doesn't watch stuff first.
Bottom line: I love Rooster Teeth. I was a little harsh in this post, but nothing changes that fact. I know this was super long and I don't know if anyone will read it. It probably also seems like overkill for just one dude canceling a membership but I wanted to get my reasons out there and off my chest. Maybe some of you will read this and think my opinions are just flamebait...but I hope not. They come from a good place. One of honesty and (hopefully) constructive criticism and feedback from a really devote fan.
I'll be happy to support RT again in the future if some positive changes take place.