I Interviewed a Blind Film Critic
If you're one of those army fuckers with 20/20 vision, chances are you're not aware that there’s a whole other (very fuzzy) world that us lesser-sighted people inhabit every day. A world where sometimes you can't even tell if another person is staring deeply, romantically into your eyes or if they're asleep. Sometimes all you normal-sighted folk's eyes are just two dark splodges on a big pink splodge. Sorry.
This happened to me the other day, when I tried to watch Ratatouille and couldn’t find my glasses. I had to listen really intently to figure out when the rat was talking, and when the humans were. But obviously a lot of people can't just put their glasses back on, so movies with shitty soundtracks and clumsy dialogue sound 100 times worse.
Tommy Edison goes by the title the Blind Film Critic and makes YouTube videos reviewing movies he's never seen, only heard. It's pretty fascinating, and totally useful for fellow blind and partially sighted movie buffs. We caught up for a chat, largely to find out what he thought of The Matrix, but also to learn more about his Instagram account, his favorite movies, and who he crushes on.
VICE: What exactly made you want to start reviewing movies in the first place?
Tommy Edison: Well, I’ve always been into film, but sometimes with movies it’s a long watch, and then you get to the solution at the end and… they don’t say anything, it’s all visual. Ben, my video producer, was like: “You’ve got to see Die Hard, that’s an action movie with great dialogue." So we thought, Hey, why not start reviewing movies?
Which movies are the most reliant on visuals?
Action movies are, quite frankly, pretty dull for me, what with all the CGI, fights and effects. That's true of most superhero movies, really. Like Thor, for example, bored me—the story wasn’t much. Although The Dark Knight was amazing.
Some movies are hard enough to follow when you’re not blind. Like Inception, WTF.
Well, if you close your eyes, I think you can actually follow Inception even better. That was one of the earlier ones we reviewed. Everyone kept asking me to review it, but in the end, I was actually able to follow it pretty well.
How about The Matrix?
When the first Matrix movie came out I watched it over and over and still couldn’t figure out why everybody thought it was so great. Then I used the “descriptive video” feature and was able to follow it. Then I realized why everyone was going crazy for it! When I go to the movies with Ben, though, we don’t talk about the visuals—I just listen. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in being a blind film critic.
Do you develop crushes on movie stars?
Mila Kunis—I’ve never seen her, but I love her!
Do you think your blindness helps you filter out the Hollywood bullshit?
Yeah. I mean take Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I like Kanye West, I think he’s a pretty smart guy, but if he closed his eyes and listened for a minute, he’d be bored to tears! I’m not a big fan of the Kardashians. I think visual beauty is given too much weight.
So what is “beautiful” to you?
To hear Miles Davis play or John Coltrane or one of the greats—that’s art. To hear Nina Simone or Ella Fitzgerald… I think jazz is art, some say it’s the only true form of American art. A lot of pop music is good, but is that art? I don’t know. In terms of painting or photography—I don’t know anything about it!
Which leads me to your Instagram, it’s amazing.
It’s a crazy thing—I’ve heard some people in comments refer to that stuff as art, and I’m like, “Really?” I always wanted a camera, but I’ve never had a way to organize the pictures. Instagram is great because I can just label them right there and then and post it.
Have you ever thought about making your own movies?
[Laughs] No, I don’t think so. I’m more of a fan. I’m not sure how much I could get into the creative part of it. I’m a music fan too but I couldn’t write a song if you paid me, I just can’t figure it out. It’s hard, writing music and film.
Finally, what are your all-time favorite films?
Well, Die Hard has got to be up there—I love that movie—and Goodfellas is a classic. One of the more recent movies would definitely be Ted, I can’t think of anything wrong with that movie.
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