Autotune The News

February 10, 2012 by staff 

Autotune The News, Benjamin Franklin kicks an informative and hilarious rhyme about transparency and First Amendment protections for pro and amateur photographers in the latest video from Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s open collaborative production company, hitRECord.

Directed by Gordon-Levitt in what he tweeted on Wednesday as a “kickass Schoolhouse Rock-style,” hitRECord‘s video for “They Can’t Turn the Lights Off Now” screened recently at the Sundance Film Festival and debuted earlier this week online.

Made in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union to bring awareness to photographers’ rights, the video’s smart and smart-ass lyrics, delivered by Franklin with backup from the Founding Fathers, come courtesy of the Gregory Brothers. And like that group’s “Auto-Tune the News” segments derive their energy from meshing absurd comedy with political commentary, much of this video’s charm lies in the juxtaposition between real-world protests and toon satire. Like, for example, when the busted pepper-spraying cop in the cartoon laments Now everyone knows me / I’m YouTube famous / But only for being a pain in the an*s.

Bottom line: The clip, which is likely to incite anti-Occupy internet and meatspace trolls’ frothy rage with its Occupy footage from Gordon-Levitt himself, is an educational hoot. It gives the basic reasoning for why the public having cameras at the ready is essential for government transparency, while keeping that message simple enough for even young people to understand.

“They Can’t Turn the Lights Off Now” is also another convincing example of Gordon-Levitt’s skills. From an adorably wisecracking kid in the must-see 1990s sci-fi spoof 3rd Rock From the Sun to breakout roles in Mysterious Skin and (500) Days of Summer to blockbuster appearances in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt’s worthy stardom has been on a perpetual climb. And the actor’s ascension should only accelerate once his feature directorial debut with Scarlett Johansson, which he announced Tuesday on Twitter, arrives in theaters.

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