Joseph Gordon-Levitt's latest venture, HITRECORD on TV is not going to be for everyone. But it might just change everything. It's a variety show featuring the perma-smiley Gordon-Levitt and his cavalcade of Internet collaborators and creatives. Using the Internet forces for good instead of evil... or mockery or humiliation or silliness — cough cough Tosh.0 — is a wholly new concept at the intersection of TV and Internet, and it's guaranteed to change the game, at least a little bit.
HITRECORD on TV is the brainchild of Gordon-Levitt's digital production collaborative, HitRECord,org. According to Gordon-Levitt, the project evolved into its current iteration in 2010, going from a fun side thing to “a professional open collaborative production company” where everyone involved helps “create and develop art and media collaboratively … So rather than just exhibiting and admiring each other's work as isolated individuals, we gather here to collectively work on projects together. Videos, writing, photography, music, anything -- we call them all RECords.”
It’s simple, sort of brilliant, and an open door for artists to express themselves together, and what makes the series so interesting is its insistence and almost blinders-up way of creating television without really making television in the traditional sense.
Truly: there’s not a lot that’s traditional here. Everything is the sum of many, many different parts — a reality of television and film production, to be sure — but rather than eschew all that in the name of the “finished product,” HITRECORD on TV’s major focus is to highlight that instead. Which is what also makes the concept around the website HitRECord so charming: art doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and sometimes it takes a village. Even the tiniest contributions can lend themselves to big developments, and maybe even something truly great and original. It’s inspiring and exciting and percolates with tension of innovative possibility.
As the variety show format makes its way towards resurgence (Maya Rudolph is also working on one), it’s only appropriate that HitRECord would find its home amongst the torchbearers of this rebooting. Because what’s at work underneath the series’ final product is actually an attempt to intersect the Internet and TV in a more creative, collaborative way — you won’t find any mocking tone or cat videos here. Just genuine, honest-to-goodness joy in the creation and execution of something new and unique. By taking parts of different wholes, something different emerges: even if its just a new way of thinking. No surprise considering how delightful and insightful Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut — the hilarious and effective Don Jon — ended up being (and yes, HitRECord had a hand in it).
HITRECORD on TV is not only cool but also sort of brave, as most people are already quick to jump to conclusions about the series’ true motives, thanks to a few marketing materials. Regardless of the show’s necessity to live and die largely on Gordon-Levitt’s draw, there’s something even more exciting underfoot: namely, the normalization and broader acceptance of everyone’s creative endeavors outside of the mass media definition of who and what should be allowed to do so.
Jumping headfirst into the chaos and trying to make it work is no easy feat and is sure to, if nothing else, bring a lot of excitement, evolution, and maybe even a few innovations to the way we create for TV and film. So keep RECording, Gordon-Levitt: you're all really onto something here.