Joseph Gordon-Levitt: it’s really not fair that some people are able to stay home


Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a good interview in TV Insider. I mean, duh, it’s JGL, but he made some points I hadn’t considered that changed my perspective about quarantine. Joseph is promoting Create Together, his series that allows people to work on projects together virtually. They dropped the first episode last Monday. Joseph mentioned that one of the projects they are working on is a documentary that speaks to the privilege of those who get to stay home during the quarantine. For all the grousing we do about not being able to go to the beach, think about the people who can’t afford to stay home and would like nothing more than to be safe rather than out right now.

What are some of the creations beyond Episode 1 that are coming up?

One of the biggest projects we’re doing, it was started by a music teacher in Texas named Ben Perez, and he wanted to do a project for his students who are graduating and who won’t get a normal graduation ceremony. He wrote them this letter, and he set the letter to music. He started this project asking other teachers to do the same, and other students to talk about how they’re feeling. We’re in the middle of making this whole big piece, words, and music, all about overcoming the adversity of 2020, with graduation being the center of it.

We’re also doing a short documentary project called Who Stays Home? started by a woman in Oklahoma, who was feeling really angry and scared when there were cases of COVID-19 in her workplace. She can’t afford to stay home. She’s a single mother supporting her family, and so she’s still working. The truth is, it’s really not fair that some people, myself included, have the opportunity to stay home, which is the safer way to go. But not everybody has that opportunity. How much money somebody has shouldn’t be determining how safe they can stay from this pandemic. So, we’re doing a short documentary piece on that disparity.

And as far as other at-home activities, have you been binge-watching any TV shows while you’re home?

I watched all of Fleabag at home again, for the second time. I just love it. I think it’s so incredibly smart, and timeless and heartbreaking.

[From TV Insider]

Even those who are getting hazard pay in their jobs, the amount is not enough to justify the threat they face by not being able to limit their contact with the outside world. Maybe I miss going to a restaurant, but I need to recognize that being able to stay home is a privilege. Staying safe in quarantine is a privilege. Looking after the health of your family and loved ones even if it means 24-hours together, day-after-day, under the same roof, is a privilege. And one none of us who are able to do it should lose sight of that part.

I included the question about binge-watching not because I want to plug Fleabag, although it’s a fine show, but because of something I read recently that said re-watching shows or movies actually helps manage anxiety during uncertain or chaotic times, such as these. I don’t know about you, but I’ve re-watched a bunch of stuff or watched things I already know then ending to and I feel guilty, like I should be watching new material during this time. But according to the mental health community, because you know what’s going to happen, it reduces stress and anxiety and can be comforting. I thought that was fascinating – and I’m not just saying that so I can watch all five seasons of the original Being Human for a third time. The only downside, shows you depression-watch run the risk of being too closely associated with bad times to watch again.

Joseph’s Create Together series looks really good, but I didn’t think I could do it justice by trying to explain it. Here is the trailer that does do a good job explaining it, as does the full TV Insider article.

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62 Responses to “Joseph Gordon-Levitt: it’s really not fair that some people are able to stay home”

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  1. Lara says:

    I love JGL. I remember back in 2010 when his brother died I sent him a message on Facebook expressing my sympathies and he sent back a thank you.

    I also really agree with him about the privilege of being able to quarantine yourself. In England, it’s been very much the message that the virus doesn’t discriminate. This just isn’t true. My husband and I are very lucky that we can work from home but both my parents who would be classed as ‘working class’ work in shops and have had to go to work. Who is more likely to catch it?

    • Lightpurple says:

      He seems like a genuinely good guy and somehow unscathed by being a child star.

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      The virus doesn’t, our societies do. And how. I’m glad some of this is being discussed- a county in Ohio just declared racism a public health menace- but it isn’t being discussed enough. Also, this is where government, especially the federal government could be mobilized for good, to address those social disparities, to actually help people to stay home, but they won’t. And while this makes me sound tinfoil hatty, I think many governors and federal leaders were more than happy to reopen once it became clear that poor communities and communities of color (often the same thing) were being disproportionately affected.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        Also, I have a major crush on JGL, have for years. Smart and hot

      • Bananapanda says:

        Here in DC, African Americans constitute 47% of Covid cases but 77% (?!) of deaths. You can pinpoint the neighborhoods, housing projects or health factors which are prevalent in the community and know that poverty equals worse health but Covid is revealing it in horrifying clarity.

  2. BlueSky says:

    It really is a privilege to be able to be at home and work. My job sent us all home with our computers 2 months ago. When I go grocery shopping I think about the employees and how this has to be hard for them, then I start feeling guilty.

    • ME says:

      I feel guilty too. I order groceries on-line and then go pick them up. I pop my trunk, they load the groceries, and off I go. No contact. I feel bad about it. Their lives are important as anyone’s. I’m no better than them. Yet, doing the grocery pick up makes me feel icky. But I have a high risk family member at home so I’m being super careful.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        I’ve been using Instacart and feel the same way. I try to make up for it by tipping really well and being really flexible when they have to make substitutions and by saying thank you a lot. The privilege disparity still exists, however.

  3. Erinn says:

    My forever TV boyfriend. He’s just so lovely.

  4. Yellowrocket says:

    I was in a bad accident a few years ago I developed PTSD and I was in a wheelchair for a while so it was hard to leave home. I couldn’t concentrate on any new tv shows or movies regardless of how good they were and I couldn’t read a book which was huge for me I’m a big reader. I ended up watching reruns of things I had already seen multiple times for several months, like friends or the big bang, stuff that I didn’t need any concentration for.

    My therapist explained its very common with ptsd sufferers and she explained it the same way, that it reduced stress and anxiety because I knew what was going to happen and I didn’t have to stress about the unexpected while my body was stuck in flight or fight mode.

    • Eva says:

      Wow thank you so much for sharing this! I am usually a big reader too and I used to LOVE binge watching all the new tv shows. This spring I haven’t been able to enjoy anything, I suddenly don’t find anything interesting and I can’t concentrate. Now I understand it must be the stress & anxiety. I feel like this situation is maybe ”waking up” some old PTSD too.

      • Kat says:

        I never thought of that! I always wondered why I felt so calm watching old shows. I was just reading a new book and it was a beach read but it made me so anxious wondering what was going to happen.
        And I agree about being privileged to stay home. My mom is a nurse, so she had no choice and my husband is an essential worker who has had to work longer hours and extra days. I worry for both of them bc they are constantly exposed. I’m home with the kids and it’s harder, but certainly safer.

      • Becks1 says:

        I’ve been reading a lot of easy romance books and stuff like that, just because they are fairly mindless and easy to read and are a nice escape. I read a lot but anything “heavy” is just too much right now.

    • FHMom says:

      I hope your health is now good. What you wrote about rewatching is very interesting. My daughter just binge watched The 100 a month ago and wants to binge watch it with me for the second time. Makes sense now.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I was just reading something about that, we re-watch because we know the outcome and it reduces anxiety.
      I have a handful of comedies I rewatch all the time, it makes sense.
      I have a list of new shows to watch and have barely made a dent in it despite being home all this time.

    • Bibliomommy96 says:

      I got encephalitis last year, and at one point i couldn’t talk, or walk very well, the only thing I remember doing was watching “friends” it was the only thing that would calm me. My dr said the same to me, that it was the only thing in my life that I knew the ending to, I had no idea what was going to happen to me, so re watching things I loved was a comfort.

    • wildwaffles says:

      I usually have the kitchen TV on all day, mostly on NBC. But once this pandemic started, I set it on Friends reruns on TBS. It was all I could tolerate for weeks. I think I’ve seen the entire series three times over.

    • Meg says:

      Wow this is so relatable. I grew up in a toxic abusive home and in my late teens early 20s would binge watch and rewatch things before streaming made this ‘normal’ and my mother criticized me constantly and would unplug the tv and hide the cord yelling it was unhealthy and i needed to get a life and why couldn’t i exercise read etc. This makes me feel less alone, so thank you

  5. manda says:

    I have always been a re-run watcher. I will watch my favorite shows over and over again. And I say “watch” but really it’s just something to have on in the background while I do whatever else I need to do. I work from home, and I have something on all day. I can’t handle the quiet! And if I play music, I want to sing along. I found that shows (or old movies) are a great for that. This is always how I studied or did homework in school, it just always made sense for me.

    I would love to check out the documentary about the people that can’t afford to stay home. JGL sounds incredibly kind and empathetic (empathic?), I’d like to see the finished project

  6. Jen says:

    This looks so great. Excited to watch it. And so agree about the inequality in staying home.

    I was actually just thinking about the whole rewatch phenomenon. I’ve been rewatching Sanditon over and over and was realizing that the last time I did that with a show was when I started grad school in a new city and was feeling really lonely and stressed. Totally makes sense to connect to tv friends when you’re struggling to connect otherwise.

  7. Becks1 says:

    I definitely feel privileged that both my husband and I are able to stay home and receive full paychecks. (we’re both still working FT, so that is a stressor with distance learning, but one I’m thankful for, you know?) I normally telework 3 days a week and I’m not sure how long this FT telework will go on, but right now it’s been a huge benefit.

    I also understand the rewatching thing. I have been watching Belgravia, but even that, as relatively understated as it is, stresses me out in a way. We keep starting new series and then cant finish (btw, the original Twin Peaks is insane.) So we’ve had a lot of reruns on just because there’s a mindlessness to it that I find appealing .

  8. 10KTurtle says:

    I’ve lost my attention span for watching tv and reading. I keep catching myself zoning out and having to rewind everything because I have no idea what is happening on the screen or I’m still on the same paragraph that I’ve already read 5 times. I’ll put in a dvd of “The Simpsons” or “Psych” (shows I can recite) and press “play all,” and then it’s over and I can’t remember a single episode that I just watched. I made it through “Killing Eve” last weekend only because I coaxed myself into doing it one episode at a time because the seasons are short. I work on an “on call” basis, and I feel guilty because I’m still getting paid on full salary even though caseload is decreased, when some of my coworkers have been furloughed through mid-July. I’m dreading this weekend- three day holiday weekend and I’m completely off call, supposed to be hot beautiful beach weather here, and I don’t feel comfortable getting out to do anything here yet (Florida, enough said). Is this ever going to end? I feel like we’re all doomed until we can get a new presidential administration, and even then I can’t think of any way to solve this.

    • PugMom says:

      There are so many new shows that I want to watch, but can’t keep the attention span. My husband and I have stacks of books we want to read but both said we just don’t have the bandwidth right now. I’ve been re-watching Supernatural and Parks and Rec. I’d love to be re-watching Doctor Who (that’s my go to for anxiety) but have to wait until that new HBO app is “live”. I’m working from home but at 80% and my husband is not working at all right now (he’s a bartender). We feel guilty because we know we’re really lucky that I have a good job that even at 80% we’re still fine, and he’s getting unemployment, but that’s not the case for a lot of people including our sons who are cooks so they’re still working for take-out.

  9. SJR says:

    Same. Can’t concentrate to follow the story lately.
    I’ve gone to Nature or cooking shows, it’s just background noise now.

  10. Gutterflower says:

    I can’t stand the people whining on social media about how BORED they are, stuck in the safety of their home. I have even seen people tweeting about how if you have to work you chose the wrong profession and haha sucks to be you, get a different job. Unreal.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Same. Im a homebody. I enjoy being home. I find it so silly to complain about having to stay on the safety of your home as if it’s a prison. It isnt. Unless you live on a dangerous situation (like so many women and children do), the whining is annoying.

    • Stephanie says:

      As an essential worker , I must say to those people to go f themselves. I do have the wrong job and wish I could stay home, but its certainly not for people who have the privilege to stay home to tell me that. Secondly although I hate going to work, if I quit I would not get unemployment and I’m not sure I could file for unemployment if I get fired since where I work is a 24 hour shelter. That being said , I am glad to still have an income and be able to pay my rent and buy food. I am so lucky and blessed in that regard. And I am grateful I can still do that. However I am irritated that people on unemployment make more than I currently do, because I do not make hazard pay. That to me is unfair. I dont resent people who can and are staying home. I resent the higher up, who drag their feet in terms of giving me hazard pay. But I guess that is a privileged statement in itself, when their are so many who have no income at all.

  11. Darla says:

    That’s how I got into the big bang theory, which I had never watched. It was in 2016, and I was ill. When I was finally diagnosed it meant a pretty serious operation. I had no idea if I was going to survive it. And I just started watching TBBT on TBS. It got me through it. I think I will always have a big soft spot in particular for Jim Parsons, because Sheldon Cooper actually made me laugh when I was terrified. And even after the surgery, and then after my eventual complete recovery, I still loved the show. I probably always will and that’s why.

    For the pandemic, it’s been Schitts’ Creek that has served this purpose.

  12. jaylee says:

    This is something I feel but haven’t been able to articulate. I’ve been able to keep my restaurant open & operating while most others in my community are closed. On the flip side I have children who are basically home schooling themselves & are alone all day. Also, dealing with the public during a pandemic is a whole new level of absurdity. People have gone mad.

    • Darla says:

      Your children will tell their children stories about you and how you got your family through the great pandemic depression of the early 20′s. And they’ll tell their children.

      • jaylee says:

        @Darla that is such a lovely way to reframe the massive parental guilt I’ve been shouldering. Thank you♡

  13. JaneDoesWerk says:

    I was laid off due to the pandemic from a job I held for four years and in which I was greatly respected within my field. It sucked. I was lucky to find a new job quickly with health insurance, but it’s a paycut and essentially entry level. I’m in the middle of my career, so that’s a huge step down for me.

    Anytime I get down about it I remind myself that some of my former colleagues who are still unemployed are weighing delivery and grocery store roles (With masters degrees and student loans) just to make ends meet once The stimulus funds that are supplementing unemployment funds end in June.

    I can’t imagine choosing between my safety and being able to pay my bills. That’s a whole different level of screwed up. That said, many of us will be in that boat soon. My husband got a letter from his employer yesterday on “preparing for re-entry” once their office opens in a few weeks. Not because it’s magically safe now, but because the government is ending stay at home orders and they’ll be allowed to reopen – even though they have been successful in telework.

  14. Veronica S. says:

    Yeah, it’s not just that the lower economic classes can’t stay at home, it’s that they’re on the front lines of the ire aimed at the restrictions. Look at how many stories we have of retail workers being attacked – even killed – because of attempts to enforce mask policies that serve to protect them as workers. It speaks volumes of how utterly expendable those people are viewed as – and how shockingly many people feel the same about healthcare workers.

  15. Alexandria says:

    I will be the only one in my office having to go to work every day because of the office move in the middle of this pandemic and yea it sucks. And nobody bothered to ask if I have underlying conditions or a senior citizen at home.

  16. Lightpurple says:

    Been really into rewatching old stuff. Yes, I have binged new things (Mrs Maisel, Ozark, Schitt’s Creek) but it’s the stuff I’m familiar with that’s holding more of my interest. I rewatched all of the MCU films, every episode of The Wire and Sex and the City, Peaky Blinders, and The Night Manager. I have started a routine of watching old comedies on Friday nights: Arsenic and Old Lace, Some Like It Hot, The Philadelphia Story. Tomorrow night we have Bringing Up Baby on the calendar

  17. Grey says:

    I’m struggling with this daily. I have worked the whole time (I’m in Canada) and have not missed one day. My provincial government classified my work as essential. On one hand, I’m thankful, and on the other hand I’m feeling very resentful that I have to go out every day. The thing that makes it complicated for me is that in the past month, my dad, who has had cancer for 2 years, has developed an aggressive form of leukaemia and is entering end of life care. Now I get to wrestle with the thoughts of if seeing him is worth the risk of passing on covid to so many others around him and to him directly. If I was able to work from home this wouldn’t be an issue. I’m not trying to complain, it’s just a really tough place to be in.

  18. wildwaffles says:

    Being able to stay home is definitely a privilege. My husband still has to go into work but it’s pretty tightly controlled. Now that my state is one of the ones opening up and there is a rapid increase in social activity around my town, I feel like I really should have appreciated the lock down more. We were the safest we were going to be. Now I am even more anxious to leave the house.

    • ME says:

      I know right. Easing restrictions has made me more anxious. People are acting like everything is “normal” again yet Covid numbers are still climbing.

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Love him. Never given much thought to why I’m rewatching, but I can see it now absolutely. It’s easy. Calmer. Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Continuum, The Expanse, GOT, Grimm and Once Upon a Time, Lost, 12 Monkeys, The Killing…. They’re like old friends lol.

    And yes, a thousand times, we’re lucky for the ability to quarantine.

  20. Barbiem says:

    Have 2 jobs, I’m a nurse. I’m thinking of quitting 1 because Covid has finally reached the facility. I can afford not to work that job honestly. Just like working with that population. Have no clue why I feel torn to quit.

  21. Prayer Warrior says:

    Wow, I’m crying…this explains my life so much. I re-read books, a lot…I re-watch shows, a lot, but not so much movies (short attention span; ADHD diagnosed and being treated). I’ve always understood why i like police procedurals (because the good guys win!) but I’ve never understood why I like to re-watch all kinds of TV shows (Life in Pieces, Heartland, Brooklyn 99) or have them playing in the background as I do housework, etc…the PTSD makes such total sense! I feel like this is a breakthrough in understanding…me…it makes so much sense

  22. Rapunzel says:

    This is why ending lockdowns so quickly is selfish. It puts those people who can’t stay home at more risk. And forces other vulnerable people back into the workplace.

    I’m so tired of those saying ” the sick and old can stay home” when they’re forcing many of them out of the house and back to work.

    I’ll never understand those folks who’ve been brainwashed to think it’s nobler to risk death for money rather than insist the government not force you make that choice.

    • Salted Watermelon says:

      Staying home is absolutely a privilege. You have to have a job that you can do from home. It’s expensive to stock up on groceries/household items to limit grocery trips, and you need the space to store these things. Or you can pay someone to shop for you, but that costs money too.

      My sister has been complaining about how hard it is for her and her husband to work from home while trying to take care of their toddler, so my retired parents moved in with them for a few weeks to help out. They were able to do this because they’ve all been able to shelter at home since March. I’m the pariah because my husband is an essential worker (Firefighter/Paramedic). I mean, I get it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting that they’re all together. Meanwhile, I’m drowning because when my husband is at work, I’m trying to take care of a baby and a toddler and work from home. Sometimes it feels like I’m being punished because of my husband’s job (which is absolutely critical to society and I am so proud of him and his coworkers).

      But then there’s also privilege among the essential workers. Firefighters don’t make nearly as much as they should, but they make more than minimum wage. No one is shooting at him because he asked them to wear a mask. If he gets exposed at work and gets sick, he’ll be paid OT for the entire quarantine period. We have decent health insurance, and live in an area with world class medical care. As far as essential workers go, we’re very fortunate.

  23. smee says:

    ITA – I hope workers rights is one of the positive things that comes out of the pandemic.

    I’ve been rewatching Community on Netflix. So funny and smart.

    I get a Keanu Reeves mini-me vibe off of JGL…

  24. Nicole says:

    I’ve been re-watching familiar shows for my anxiety since my early 20s. And I’ve noticed it has to be feel good shows for the most part. I’ve watched the Golden Girls series at least 4 times in its entirety since I’ve been home. For the past couple of days, my youngest and I have been watching The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch version). Thank you Netflix for keeping the movie past Christmas. We’ve also had Ghost Adventures, Psych, and Paranormal Caught on Camera marathons :)

    • Juls says:

      Gah! I’ve had the Golden Girls theme song stuck in my head for days, and I haven’t even been watching it. “If you threw a parteeeee”…..I have been caught singing it at work more than once.

  25. Valiantly Varnished says:

    He’s right. I was just thinking about this yesterday. So much complaining about being stuck in the house but there are sooo many people who dont have that privilege. Who HAVE to go out and put themselves and their families at risk to put food on the table. And then on top of that they have to deal with the morons who refuse to wear masks and social distance. All of essential workers should have and should be given hazard pay. I am keenly aware of how blessed and privileged I am to be able to stay home.

  26. Michelle says:

    Just here for the JGL love. He’s always come across as smart and nice and he’s very handsome :) One is my fave celebrities.

    • Jerusha says:

      Never a hint of a scandal and he’s married to a woman who founded one tech company and co-founded another one.

  27. Prayer Warrior says:

    I find this whole thread incredibly comforting. We might not have had this conversation had JGL not made his statements. My respect level for him has soared. Thanks to all who were open with their “re-watching” & “re-reading” issues and goals and I’m so very grateful.

  28. Awkward symphony says:

    I agree with other commentators here, I too find it hard to concentrate on reading! I find myself stuck in the same page for WEEKS!!! I wonder if it’s to do with the repetitive side of our new daily life+mild depression from being isolated?!
    I love JGL. I read about his production/virtual sharing site years ago. He’s definitely on track to be the new Netflix version of movie making. The current situation is a great opportunity for his company which is all about remotely developing art. He’s right about people being privileged to stay & work from home whilst others go out every day for subliminal pay taking high risk.

  29. ravynrobyn says:

    Hey everyone! Loving hearing about everyones’ comfort rewatches. I’m into Parks & Rec and South Park for background noise.

    My ultimate comfort soul food rewatch go-to for decades is, and always will be, NYPD Blue.
    It’s perfect on so many levels! I’ve seen it soooo many times that it works great as background-most eps have the same structure and I already know how it ends.

    If I need comfort or to work out some bad feeling, thoughts or experiences, “Blue” sustains me on a whole other and much deeper level.

    The show, mainly the character of one Andy Sipowicz (played by the sublimely incomparable Dennis Franz) gives me hope when I feel like the sh*ttiest person alive. Andy started out as a vile drunken, racist, misogynisti, xenophobic, homophobic, belligerent pos. Yet even at his very worst, the slight glimmer of something resembling hope or sadness or humanity showing in his eyes gave me hope for Andy and for myself. This incredible show led me on a 12 YEAR journey to Andy’s (and MY!) redemption. I KNOW it sounds ridiculous, but it is what it is.

    Come to think of it, that’s why I’ve seen
    “Les Miserables” live around 20-25 times; I just can’t get enough!!!! Seeing and hearing how a basically good person finds himself in dire
    (physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual) straights and fights his way back to self-acceptance, perhaps even self-love…pure magic.

  30. BonnieT says:

    However on point his comments are about this pandemic, I’ve not really been a fan of JGL’s circa his comments in 2012 -“Most pretty girls aren’t funny.”

  31. Moo says:

    I love him. What a beautiful human.

  32. Amelie says:

    I have been rewatching Parks & Rec, that show will always be comfort watching for me. I discovered it a few years back when I had a particularly bad sinus infection and had to miss almost an entire week of work because I was so miserable. I barely had energy to leave the couch and remembered a lot of people had recommended Parks & Rec to me in the past. I ended up binge watching a lot of it and ever since it has been my favorite show. I turned my sister on to it as well and now during quarantine, I’ve introduced my mom to it who has also started watching a few episodes at a time. It’s so easy to digest since the episodes are barely 20 minutes.

  33. Claira says:

    I’ll have to check it out! My husband and I have both been working the whole time. My job (law enforcement related) has actually gotten more erratic – having to work varying shifts around the clock in a position I don’t normally even do – on top of my regular duties. And we’re still subject to mass layoffs in the coming months. It has been interesting to say the least!

  34. K says:

    He’s a good person. He’s willing to admit his privileges and his limitations, geek out on and share creative inspiration, challenge/encourage others and show compassion.

    It’s been helpful to follow him during isolation, as some of the creative prompts put out there through his collaborative company HitRecord have kept me writing, drawing, connecting with other artists and processing the feelings stirred up by this pandemic, rather than just sit around immobile and depressed.

  35. JV says:

    As someone in the medical field, I have been saying this from day 1. I would love to be safe at home with my loved ones instead of stressed to the max and exposing my family to god knows what every day.

  36. Bavarian says:

    I had the Chance to work from home but i refused it. After 4 weeks with 3 Kids at home I got anxiety attacks. Going back to work helps me immense with the pandemic.