Well known for his rapid-fire (and rather violent) cartoons and comedy, Thomas Ridgewell (aka TomSka on YouTube) is the first to admit that his audience largely comprises “your average ‘Halo’-playing, ‘I slept with your mother last night’ kid” — in other words, disagreeable, 12-year-old boys. However, Ridgewell sees this as an opportunity to do some good, which he explained to Rhett & Link on this week’s “Ear Biscuits.”
As Ridgewell sees it, there are those YouTube channels that constantly promote social awareness and focus on important issues like, say, sexual health and safety as their central message. Those channels, of course, feature valuable content, but their creators end up “kind of preaching to the choir.” Their audiences look to those channels to watch videos created by people with similar ideals, so, in that sense, the majority of them aren’t learning anything new.
On the contrary, Ridgewell imagines his fan base as unlikely to gravitate to “better yourself” content of their own accord. By inserting a sneaky, educational video into the mix of his otherwise outrageous (and potentially offensive) comedy, he figures that his viewers might be more susceptible to the messages therein.
Take the example of Ridgewell’s “The Sex Talk” video. Though he “thought it could potentially be a real channel killer,” Ridgewell decided to make a video that explains sex to young people…basically to him around the age of 14, back when he was never given a proper sex talk. Unlike the creator’s other videos, “The Sex Talk” is not strictly comedy. Though it certainly has a comedic edge, the video legitimately explains sex to viewers in a way that is both precise, (relatively) unabashed, and informative.
Inspiration for the video came from Ridgewell looking up statistics online, where he alighted on the one that indicates one in three women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Knowing that his viewers were approximately one-third women and two-thirds men, he started applying this statistic and experienced slight panic. “I felt like I had to give something back that was more than just comedy,” he said.
Fans have asked Ridgewell to make more videos like “The Sex Talk,” and he plans to, mentioning a desire to create one that focuses on self-harm. “What I care the most about is my legacy,” Ridgewell explained. “How many people can I inspire…[these videos] do have a ripple effect and it will pass through time.” He also sees how his particular line of work can help make this happen. “Without YouTube, I would only be able to affect friends and my immediate family.”
To hear more about how a creator with such trigger-happy video content inspires to do good on the web, listen to his interview on the latest “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link.”