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Tommy Edison watches movies for a living. He's never actually seen one.

If you're only watching movies, you might be missing out.

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Perkins School for the Blind

Tommy Edison was born blind. That didn't stop him from falling in love with movies.

If your first reaction upon reading that was to wonder how a blind person watches movies, Edison understands. It's a question he's answered a lot in his job as the Blind Film Critic on YouTube.

"I'm always asked how I can enjoy films without being able to see them," he said. "But for me, there's so much more to the experience — there's story, there's dialogue, there's music and sound. It's a lot more than what you watch on the screen."


For blind movie lovers like Edison, knowing that there are actors and action on the big screen is only a small part of experiencing cinema.

‌Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. Image via Tommy Edison, used with permission.‌

"For me, the biggest part of a film is the story," he said. "Movies like 'Goodfellas' or 'Clerks' don't even need the visuals — their storytelling is so strong and the performances are so skilled. As soon as those movies started, I was right in the story."

Even if a film doesn't have amazing performances, it can make up for it with an excellent soundscape. "There was an incredible movie called 'The Grey,' starring Liam Neeson, a few years back," said Edison. "Most of the action took place outside, and the sound editors took advantage of the surround sound in the theater to make it feel like we were right there with them. I could hear the rain all around me — so much that I wanted to wipe it off my head, it felt so real."

At the moment, a lot of big-budget movies revolve around action sequences without dialogue — a challenging situation for blind moviegoers. That's when audio descriptions are helpful.

‌A woman listens with headphone to a movie playing on her laptop. For blind movie watchers, hearing the action is just as good as seeing it. Image via iStock.‌

Like closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired, audio commentary helps vision-impaired or blind people follow along with TV and movie action during scenes with limited dialogue.

According to the American Council of the Blind, three American theater chains — AMC, Cinemark, and Regal — offer audio descriptions on all of their screens. Blind or vision-impaired moviegoers can go to the theater and wear a set of headphones that will play a narration track describing the film's key visual elements like costumes, sets, and other moments only sighted people would experience. Best of all, the track only runs during pauses in lines of spoken dialogue, ensuring non-sighted moviegoers don't miss anything.  

For Edison, an audio description track changed his understanding of one of the most famous movies of the '90s. "I tried watching 'The Matrix' a few times without audio descriptions. I couldn't make it through more than about 20 or 30 minutes of it," said Edison. "The descriptions changed that; they helped me understand what it was about, and how cool of a film it was."

While Edison is appreciative of technological advancements like audio descriptions, he'd rather they weren't necessary.

If he had his way, Hollywood would simply get better at telling stories, rather than showing them.

‌This empty green-screen set could become an entire scene in a superhero popcorn flick. For blind moviegoers like Edison, that's a big problem. Image via iStock.‌

"The one genre that doesn’t really work for me as a blind audience member are the superhero movies," he said, conspiratorially. "'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Superman' — it all sort of seems to be eye candy. They have all these incredible performers, and they all know how to act — studios need to give them something to work with! At the very least, they need to talk to each other more during fight scenes, not just grunt and roar."

Movies and TV shows are part of our shared cultural fabric — whether we're watching them for the action on the screen or listening to them for the stories they tell.

While, as Edison said, "there's nobody audio-describing our lives," anyone can appreciate the moviegoing experience of blind people on their own. So next time you settle in for a night on the couch or head to the theater for a break (and some $12 popcorn), maybe try closing your eyes and listening to the film instead. You might end up seeing it in a whole new way.

Tommy Edison was born blind. That didn't stop him from falling in love with movies.

If your first reaction upon reading that was to wonder how a blind person watches movies, Edison understands. It's a question he's answered a lot in his job as the Blind Film Critic on YouTube.

"I'm always asked how I can enjoy films without being able to see them," he said. "But for me, there's so much more to the experience — there's story, there's dialogue, there's music and sound. It's a lot more than what you watch on the screen."

For blind movie lovers like Edison, knowing that there are actors and action on the big screen is only a small part of experiencing cinema.

‌Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. Image via Tommy Edison, used with permission.‌

"For me, the biggest part of a film is the story," he said. "Movies like 'Goodfellas' or 'Clerks' don't even need the visuals — their storytelling is so strong and the performances are so skilled. As soon as those movies started, I was right in the story."

Even if a film doesn't have amazing performances, it can make up for it with an excellent soundscape. "There was an incredible movie called 'The Grey,' starring Liam Neeson, a few years back," said Edison. "Most of the action took place outside, and the sound editors took advantage of the surround sound in the theater to make it feel like we were right there with them. I could hear the rain all around me — so much that I wanted to wipe it off my head, it felt so real."

At the moment, a lot of big-budget movies revolve around action sequences without dialogue — a challenging situation for blind moviegoers. That's when audio descriptions are helpful.

‌A woman listens with headphone to a movie playing on her laptop. For blind movie watchers, hearing the action is just as good as seeing it. Image via iStock.‌

Like closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired, audio commentary helps vision-impaired or blind people follow along with TV and movie action during scenes with limited dialogue.

According to the American Council of the Blind, three American theater chains — AMC, Cinemark, and Regal — offer audio descriptions on all of their screens. Blind or vision-impaired moviegoers can go to the theater and wear a set of headphones that will play a narration track describing the film's key visual elements like costumes, sets, and other moments only sighted people would experience. Best of all, the track only runs during pauses in lines of spoken dialogue, ensuring non-sighted moviegoers don't miss anything.  

For Edison, an audio description track changed his understanding of one of the most famous movies of the '90s. "I tried watching 'The Matrix' a few times without audio descriptions. I couldn't make it through more than about 20 or 30 minutes of it," said Edison. "The descriptions changed that; they helped me understand what it was about, and how cool of a film it was."

While Edison is appreciative of technological advancements like audio descriptions, he'd rather they weren't necessary.

If he had his way, Hollywood would simply get better at telling stories, rather than showing them.

‌This empty green-screen set could become an entire scene in a superhero popcorn flick. For blind moviegoers like Edison, that's a big problem. Image via iStock.‌

"The one genre that doesn’t really work for me as a blind audience member are the superhero movies," he said, conspiratorially. "'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Superman' — it all sort of seems to be eye candy. They have all these incredible performers, and they all know how to act — studios need to give them something to work with! At the very least, they need to talk to each other more during fight scenes, not just grunt and roar."

Movies and TV shows are part of our shared cultural fabric — whether we're watching them for the action on the screen or listening to them for the stories they tell.

While, as Edison said, "there's nobody audio-describing our lives," anyone can appreciate the moviegoing experience of blind people on their own. So next time you settle in for a night on the couch or head to the theater for a break (and some $12 popcorn), maybe try closing your eyes and listening to the film instead. You might end up seeing it in a whole new way.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

via GIPHY

A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

via GIPHY

It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

via GIPHY

Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

via GIPHY

Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

via GIPHY

Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

via GIPHY

Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

via GIPHY

It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

via GIPHY

I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

via GIPHY

Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

via GIPHY


No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

via GIPHY

The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

via GIPHY

Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

Giphy

Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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