Is there anything you can do about it? And moreover, will you want to?
As Netflix and Rooster Teeth gain additional resources with the former raising subscription rates all over the world and the latter recently being purchased by media conglomerate, AT&T, it appears both major streaming services that if you want to make good quality content you have to do it fairly and ethically and as we’re learning with the WGA-ATA negotiations, the internet emboldens those who want change more prudently than say 30+ years ago when organizations can easily take advantage of people and not really get any mouth over it. Shareholders, stockholders, and subscribers can just as easily come across information as anyone else and it can lead to negative ramifications.
Rooster Teeth is now learning this the hard way. The streaming service has launched an Emmy campaign behind Michael B. Jordan’s gen: Lock and has a big RTX animation festival happening in a couple of weeks. So now is as bad a time as any for reports from former and currently, employees flooding both on Reddit and even hiring websites like Glassdoor to show up pertaining to unfair working conditions. When similar reports came out for Nitrogen studios following the theatrical release of Sausage Party, it effectively helped put that studio out of business. It’s early now, and Rooster Teeth has backing resources that Nitrogen just simply didn’t have at that juncture, but these reports caused so much trouble, it forced Matt Hullum to have to do a big statement which, as you can see from the comments underneath it, isn’t going well. Animation producers Gray G. Haddock has stepped down as head of the production and will be doing creative, a band-aid measure for a much larger issue.
Likewise, Netflix is dealing with its own workforce issues as well. While series like Castlevania, BoJack Horseman, and Tuca & Bertie vie for Emmy noms in a Rick and Morty-less year, the animation producers behind the latter two series are showing increase solidarity with unionizing with IATSE Local 839 and have the petition to prove just that. Personally, I haven’t heard of any negative working conditions at Shadowmachine, the studios behind BoJack and Tuca & Bertie, so it’s a slightly different problem than what Rooster Teeth has. But, in an increasingly anti-capitalist movement happening on Twitter and other social platforms, regardless if these measures are coming from real users or bot accounts, it can potentially make those studios look bad in the eyes of the subscribers who may also use those social platforms.
The easy answer for those wanting the producers of all of the aforementioned shows is for unions in California to solve all, but that’s usually never how it goes. Chances are if studios want to get programming produced, they are more than happy to ship work to other States and even countries where the cost of living isn’t as crazy thereby salaries and benefits wouldn’t be as expensive. And for animation studios, expenses are everything. They need to make as much profit as possible all the while the networks and streaming services make the series as affordable as possible so as to get a greater ROI. It’s a constant battle that will probably never end and it’s these reasons why Netflix and CBS would rather just launch their own animation studios because now you don’t have to pay a “middle man” for original productions.
In every facet of American products, chances are, you’re taking advantage of some sort of unfair working conditions happening elsewhere that you don’t have to think about. Do me a favor, go in your pocket, and grab your mobile phone or if you’re reading this on your mobile phone take a good look at it. Do you REALLY want to know the truth as to that phone you are using and how it costs as cheap as it does? When you’re eating your lunch and unwrapping your orange, do you REALLY want to know how those oranges are picked and by whom? The truth hurts, and the animation business is no exception. Where the happy medium is between subscription rates and growing costs for content, that we may never know. But, at the end of the day, do you REALLY want to know how your cartoons are produced for a $5.99 subscription fee?