I have this recurring dream where I’m stuck at a friend’s wedding reception. People are throwing bread, I’m eating key-lime pie and there’s this sense that I’m undoubtedly cooler than everyone else. My apologies — I’m not a blatantly shallow person, but somewhere deep down I know I’m part lagoon. The thing is, I’m not cool, and I don’t even like key-lime pie. Nonetheless, there’s this, “Gah, one day!” mentality that I’ve been clinging to for a while now. What never occurred to me is that there might not be a one day; maybe there are just days.
Founded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his late brother Daniel, hitRECord is an online open-collaborative production company built to connect artists across the globe. They put out all kinds of media (albums, stories, videos, etc.), which they’ve coined as “RECords.” Their TV show, “HitRecord on TV,” is brilliant and had a two-season run on Pivot for which it won the 2014 Emmy in Social TV for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. Each 20-minute segment is hosted by Gordon-Levitt, who goes by RegularJOE on the site.
RegularJOE sends out a theme and challenges to go along with it, and people upload various mediums of art in response. Users can combine the work of others or add in layers of their own. In a world where originality gets hyper-competitive — everyone is trying to design better, sing better, write better — hitRECord gives artists a space to build off each other, working in tandem to create something fantastic.
Every episode takes on a different topic. Simply seeking to spark discussion and breed creativity, “HitRecord on TV” lives in the gray areas of existential crises and everyday musings. Gordon-Levitt takes the show through music videos, webcam discussions, short films, open-ended questions and other forms of art similar to the way "Saturday Night Live" travels from skit to skit.
I was completely addicted to this series upon discovering it. I get into these manic phases where I’m so, so desperate to know and feel and understand the world and to know how other people are doing the same thing. It makes me restless, obsessive even. I obsess over what Hilary Duff is up to, despondent movie montages and the way the sunrise drapes that one highway in the most delicate shade of pink.
And so it goes. Lounging around watching the first season, one episode in particular took an unwarranted hold over me: “The Other Side.”
The other side of life, the other side of the screen, the other side of the story — the segment explores all the queries people have about the other side and whether the grass is actually greener or whether someone just hired a killer lawn care service to chemically delude everyone.
My favorite portion of the episode is the music video, “Adieu.” With hand-drawn animation from 22 different artists and lyrics by user joerud, the song is raucously sinister. Lives are ending every which way, and this smooth, honeyed French track drips over the whole saga. Scenes of utter tragedy and madcap fatalities are interspersed with a depiction of Gordon-Levitt drunkenly stumbling around a bar-top. People are going wild, and it’s this enormous celebration of morbidity.
And then it struck me: I’m going to die and so are you. Sorry.
Everyone dies. Everyone. For some reason, this banally obvious fact hit me heavy. I think it’s because I was devoted to this notion that there was a way for life to be perfect. If I could only just find the right person or land in the right place, life could exist perfectly. This was my other side. Ironically enough, watching this animated clip about the real other side is what drove me to the realization that mine isn’t real at all.
I absolutely love the idea of another side, but I also can’t stand it. It makes me feel like I’m not enough, and no one should make you feel like that — especially not yourself. Tomorrow is exhausting to think about, and eventually tomorrow is going to become today: It’s the whopping flank of life. Letting go of the idea that the future is some elusive other side is one of the biggest moments of release I’ve ever felt.
Not to have a, “dude, we’re like alive right now” moment, but dude — we’re, like, alive right now. We all exist in the same world, and we’re all going to leave it at some point. There is no other side; there’s only us. Collaborating and conglomerating and purely coexisting — that’s what we all have, together, here. Let’s create something of it.