This is a story about a guy named Jeff, who looks surprisingly approachable, astonishingly friendly, and amazingly natural. A guy who you want to call “dude” when you meet him but you don’t know why. Maybe it’s because his entire face literally smiles at you when he talks. Honestly, it’s a bit freaky: when you watch one of the videos he posted on YouTube, you can’t help but be attracted by his magnetic vibes. Jeff may be a professional at seduction because he’s an actor, but how is it possible to be so charming with the same charisma as the guy next door? Is it natural to be so natural? Did he take dietary supplement for that? “RegularJOE here,” is what he writes to introduce himself on the homepage of his Tumblr. “The old media tends to call me Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that being my name and all. Here in the new media, I hit that round red REC button on a regular basis.” What in the hell does he mean by this?
Everybody knows 30-year-old Joseph Gordon-Levitt who owes his popularity to his role on 3rd Rock from the Sun in the late 90’s. In the TV show, he was about the age of Justin Bieber yet played the oldest alien who lived in the body of a teen. More recently he was Arthur in the very famous film Inception and will soon play the role of a young guy who is diagnosed with cancer in 50/50, a new comedy directed by Jonathan Levine. But Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not just a successful actor who began his carrier at a really early age. Like the Roman god Janus, he has a dark side. But don’t worry, it’s still the smiling face of a performer and a well rounded artist who wants to be known as RegularJOE.
As a Musician we can watch him on YouTube playing Nirvana on stage with all his heart. As a director he finished a short movie called Sparks (2009) that he mentioned during the interview. As a fan of art, he created a small business on the Internet linking creative people together by starting an open collaborative project where many contributors are invited to participate. “Rather than just exhibiting and admiring each other's work as isolated individuals, we gather here to collectively work on projects together” he says. “Videos, writing, photography, music, anything — we call them all RECords. When I think something we've made has come out especially well, I approach the traditional entertainment industry to turn our work into money-making productions; and then we share any profits with the contributing artists.”
This is the kind dude that Jeff is. Can I call you dude Jeff? He has one foot in the star system, and the rest of his body floating in the huge and anonymous cyberspace. He evidently quotes Lawrence Lessig, the Internet activist, who invented a new way to share content in the digital era known as Creative Commons. He says that he doesn’t pay much attention to the old fashion concepts of the “box office” and “reviews because for him, “feedback” and “comments” are the two most sacred concepts in today’s Internet culture. Even though RegularJOE is just a humble guy, but who tries to resolve the existential question of the “artist identity” in a world where downloading media is becoming the norm. “How is our generation of performers going to be connected directly to his audience/creative community?” he inquires.
His collaborative project, which could be a subconscious tribute to his father who de deeply admires, is a possible solution. Flashing back to his early childhood, we can see young Jeff who, instead of attending his French poetry class, preferred expressing his passion by making videos for fun while Mr Gordon-Levitt carefully managed his small business of software technology in Iowa. According to Jeff, if there were more people like his father in this world who were crafty and concerned about saving money, the surplus revenue of big conglomerates would not be so devastating, making the 3rd rock from the sun a better place for everyone. “hitRECord is a company, but we don’t have offices,” he says. No offices perhaps, but with a soul.
This summer, the instinctive owner of this artistic start-up was proud to celebrate the first issue of RECollection, a unique and original CD/DVD/book compilation of 17 songs, 36 short films and 64 color pages ($ 29,95, a special offer these days). This unique piece of art was made possible by the contributions from people that RegularJOE didn’t physically meet often. “Last time, I met a girl named Tory, but don’t ask me her last name, I don’t know it,” he says. “I call her by her first name. I never thought she had a last name!” The same thing goes for Gordon-Levitt, just call him Jeff as if he were the guy next door.
Written by Jean-Philippe (from Paris), edited by Tyrone (from San Francisco).