The first time I saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt was not Third Rock from the Sun. It was Inception. Since then, and especially over the last couple of years, he’s done a lot of stuff that has caught my eye… and always in a good way. It’s appropriate that I mention the first time I saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt (or JGL, as he’s lovingly called by his fans—Joseph Golden Rabbit on reddit), because last week, he introduced the world to his new show HitRECord on TV. Its first episode was about firsts.
Joe’s geek status seems to have originated organically. His good friend Zooey Deschanel says that when she first met Joe, he was “Very intellectual. Very, very serious and very intense… you would say something, and he would go, ‘What do you mean by that?’ Not a word went unexamined, you know?” Now, he’s much more open, friendly, and able to express himself freely; and that is also something he admires in others (such as his older brother Dan, who passed away in 2010).
JGL seems to be enthusiastic about everything that he helps create. I think it is inherently geeky that he is so in love with what he does and shares. His big box office hits may make him a well known and wealthy man, but he seems incredibly grounded—even drives a 2005 Honda. His passion appears to actually be about what he does, rather than about making money by doing things. He has given multiple interviews in which he declaims the idea of “celebrities” and the culture that makes their words and actions more important than those of other people. On the internet, he goes by “RegularJOE” or “hitRECordJoe,” to put emphasis on his work rather than his status.
Joe believes that the media plays a large—perhaps too large—role in forming public opinion about the way the world is and should be. “My mom and dad brought me up to question dominant cultural gender roles,” he says at one point. The “old media,” as he calls it, is on its way out. Thanks to the connectivity now afforded by the internet, a new type of media is forming in which artists can connect directly with their audience without the Hollywood song-and-dance.
He’s able to geek out about the same types of things that his fans are passionate about. “Movies are something I care deeply about,” he says, in an interview about Dark Knight Rises, “Often times in our culture, movies are thought of as something more disposable, a bit of entertainment. That’s not how I feel about them; and it’s great to be a part of something where people aren’t just looking at is as some piece of disposable entertainment but as something that means a lot.”
Now, after his directorial debut with Don Jon, he’s putting his efforts into a new form of art: HitRECord. For the past few years, Joe has been working on a project that is now hosted on hitrecord.org. Creators of all forms of media—singers and songwriters, artists and animators, even just people with fantastic speaking voices—come together to make collaborative pieces. Now, for the first time, some of these pieces will be on a television show hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself.
Joe seems to have a unique way of reaching out to connect to his fans, and it shows in this project. It is hard to comprehend how a young man who has acting for the public’s entertainment is able to empathize so perfectly with those who love his work. Somehow he always does the right thing—like right now, when he released the first episode of his new show HitRECord on TV a week early to his internet fandom, and announced it with an AMA on reddit. (You can check out the AMA here and the show here). His sincerity and zeal are obvious—this type of public relations cannot be taught. Unsurprisingly, this appeal resulted in an enormous response from his fans. It seems to have worked, because HitRECord on TV has already been picked up for a second season—still a couple of days ahead of its January 18th premier.
It is rare for me to speak so glowingly of anyone—especially a celebrity—but I just really like this guy. I like his down-to-earth style. I like his grasp on social media, and his ability to advertise without appearing to advertise. I really, really love his enthusiasm for his life and his art. I’m excited to see what else Joseph Golden Rabbit and his brave new world of media has to show us and wish him the best in all of his endeavors.