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Brittany Tomlinson is no stranger to the internet.
Known as Brittany Broski online, the 24-year-old TikTok creator with 6.3 million followers is best known for her comedic impressions and her mega-viral kombucha girl moment. Though her outsized presence on TikTok developed just a few years ago, Tomlinson’s childhood was deeply shaped by the internet — for better and worse.
“Me being on Tumblr and Wattpad as a 12 year old was not preserving my childhood innocence,” Tomlinson tells The Hollywood Reporter over Zoom from her apartment in Los Angeles.
Those years of experience will become the basis for a new podcast from Tomlinson and her creative partner (and roommate) Sarah Schauer, which will premiere on January 10. In the Studio71-produced show, Violating Community Guidelines, Tomlinson and Schauer will explore the “strange corners of the internet.” Each episode will be devoted to one internet phenomena, including topics like deep-fakes, fanfiction, the furry community and absurd items sold on Facebook Marketplace.
“It’s going be a wild ride — very educational, but in not any way that you would want,” Tomlinson says.
Tomlinson and Schauer, who are self-financing the project, have been working with a researcher to develop each episode, and Tomlinson emphasizes that the show will approach each topic from a place of respect.
“This is fucking weird to an outsider, but in the context of internet, you can’t deny that it is a culture and a community that people feel a sense of belonging to,” Tomlinson says. “These subcultures and these communities mean so much to these people. Personally, I used to read and write fanfiction. When I hear people talk shit about fanfiction, I’m like, Well, hold on. So I wanted to keep that spirit with each topic we approach.”
The upcoming series won’t be Tomlinson’s first podcast, as she most recently hosted TikTok’s For You podcast, where she interviewed other popular TikTok creators. But with Violating Community Guidelines, Tomlinson wants to meet new and existing fans with her treasure trove of “useless knowledge” about the internet.
“This is made for, for lack of a better term, the normies that didn’t grow up the way we did,” Tomlinson says, “and we want to show them how weird it can get.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What can fans expect from the show?
The pandemic started right as [Sarah Schauer and I] moved in, so we were just on it making content for Sarah’s channel and mine, and every time we would do a collab, the views would just be insane. So we’re like, we need to give the children what they’re asking for. So it’s been in the works for a while, coming up with a concept for a podcast and [figuring out] what’s gonna set us apart from another podcast with two white girls.
We both grew up online, to a fault. We have been exposed to the worst of the worst online from a very young age, because your parents never know what you’re doing online. And so we have all this useless knowledge of all these strange corners of the internet, and Sarah and I both being content creators, we interface with these platforms a lot.
It’s a weird thing happening because what we’re seeing on TikTok is content that’s been recycled from Twitter, from Tumblr, from Reddit, from 4chan. It’s like the cycle continues; the platforms are just the things that are changing.
As a content creator and now as you examine internet culture for your podcast, how have you come to terms with these ongoing questions of, Is social media good for us? Should we keep using it?
No, it’s not good for you because at the core social media, it is preying on your wants and desires and your insecurities and your passions. I really just don’t think there’s a healthy balance there because it was designed to be addictive: endless scrolling, all of the numbers that are viewable, like followers, following, likes on a post.
I can be hyperaware of that but also succumb to what it was designed for, so it’s this sort of purgatory that I find myself stuck in. It’s like, I hate this and I know it’s so bad for me, but it’s my job and I love it.
I imagine you’re not supportive of Instagram for kids?
Absolutely not. One of the reasons that I am the way that I am is because I was online way too early. And sure, it gives you an interesting perspective and an interesting worldview, but I don’t think [it’s good] for the young developing mind to be weighed down with a lot of these adult topics. Preserve your childhood innocence as long as you can! Me being on Tumblr and Wattpad as a 12 year old was not preserving my childhood innocence. Even things like Chatroulette and Omegle, I was doing that as a sixth grader. That’s wild. I was seeing adult male penises as a sixth grader.
I think that it’s an ongoing conversation of what’s the safe way to have everyone participate because even things like CoComelon and all that are online. It’s geared towards kids. So many YouTubers make content for children and they’re millionaires. So it’s a weird thing where children drive a lot of the market, but it’s so unsafe for them to be online.
As you were going into the planning process for the podcast, what were some shows that you looked to for inspiration?
We are such fans of Trixie [Mattel] and Katya [Zamolodchikova], obviously, Bald and the Beautiful.
I personally kind of like the educational — but, like, education that no one wants — in the same vein of My Favorite Murder or Last Podcast on the Left or John Green and Hank Green’s Anthropocene Reviewed.
What’s a podcast that you’ve been listening to that people might be surprised you’re a fan of?
I listen to SmartLess. I just love Jason Bateman. They have the most A-list celebrity guests and the other two hosts [Will Arnett and Sean Hayes] don’t know. It’s such an interesting dynamic. They’re like, Today, we’re talking to Sir Paul McCartney. What the hell? I think it’s so cool.
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