Being blind doesn’t stop Tommy Edison from doing the things he really wants to do. Like working as a traffic reporter for a Connecticut radio station, taking photographs, or critiquing movies – things that normally require a reasonably good eye sight. He also runs a great website where he puts up his reviews and talks about being blind.
It’s confusing at first as to how a blind person could review movies – a very visual experience. But Tommy has managed to find a way to do that, and in a way that’s both engaging and entertaining. His approach is unique. He says, “I watch movies and pay attention to them in a different way that sighted people do. I’m not distracted by all the beautiful shots and attractive people. I watch a movie for the writing and acting.” And so he’s able to deliver a review that hits the nail right on the head. I watched his review of The Dark Knight Rises. It was short, crisp and to-the-point. Several comments on YouTube reveal that people watch his reviews first, to figure out what’s a good movie to watch. Sometimes Tommy jokes around, like when he reviewed Water for Elephants he said, “I didn’t think Robert Pattison was all that much to look at. I gotta be honest with you. I don’t know what all the kids see in him. Ha ha!” His rating system is unique too. For Scream 4, he said, “Sighted people, I think you will really enjoy this movie. Blind people stay at home. I’m going to give this 2 out of 4 eyes open.”
One of the most interesting videos on Tommy’s website is the story of how his parents told him he couldn’t see. Because being blind was all he’d ever known, he never figured that there was something wrong with him. He says that he doesn’t remember the exact moment when he was told about it, but being blind is natural and normal as far as Tommy is concerned. He doesn’t think he’s missing anything. “To us, my family, it was normal,” he says. “It was all I knew.” It’s quite apparent from his videos that Tommy has a great sense of humor. Other interesting videos on his website include: ‘Best Things about Being Blind’, ‘Why Nature Scares Me’ and the ‘Blind Basketball’ series.
Apart from being the Blind Film Critic, Tommy has also been a radio professional for the past 20 years. People love him for his engaging personality and entertaining demeanor. He’s also big on Instagram. He takes photographs of things that inspire him all through the day – a tree, a bird or any object in his office – and then posts the images on Instagram. He has over 13,000 followers on the photo sharing app. “I took a picture at work and it’s got 130 likes. I don’t know, it just blows my mind that people are interested. I can’t believe people want to look at it,” he says. As with reviewing films, Tommy has a unique method to take pictures as well. He sets his iPhone to ‘Accessibility’ mode, so each button’s function is dictated to him. So before he makes a selection, the voice-activated software tells him to tap an icon twice.
Tommy reviews movies along with his friend and filmmaker Ben Churchill. His videos have received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. But the two friends had no idea their work would become so popular. “Tommy said he always thought it’d be cool to review movies from his point of view,” says Churchill. “So I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We had no idea how it was going to turn out.” Churchill is the producer, director and editor of the videos and says that people love the reviews because they’re able to get an idea of Tommy’s perspective.
It seems like in all the things that Tommy does, there’s a common theme that emerges. As he puts it, “I want to show you the world my way – show you what I’m supposed to be seeing.” And that’s exactly what makes his work so popular.