Punk and Disorderly

Thanks to Georgia Sugimura Archer and Kristin Armfield’s new documentary, BARBERSHOP PUNK, we may have a brand new  litmus test when it comes to politics and policy – if both NARAL and the Christian Coalition are lining up on the same side of an issue, then everyone should stand up and take notice.

Software engineer Robb Topolski was simply attempting to access some turn-of the-century barbershop quartet music (legally) when he made an unsettling discovery: his Internet service provider was covertly participating in a practice of filtering and controlling its customer’s content. The actions of this unlikely hero in the “free and open Internet” debate and pushes the FCC to address the policies carried out by “big media” companies.

BARBERSHOP PUNK expertly weaves one man’s inspiring personal battle against censorship with opinions on both sides of the issue from songwriters, politicians, commentators and musicians, including two of the original “Georgetown Punks,” Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, who help put a fine point on what it means to really be “punk.” (Evidently, thanks to Robb Topolski, barbershop quartet now = punk).

While it is bound to stir up legitimate debate over concerns surrounding protection of the free market, media consolidation and “Big Brother,” BARBERSHOP PUNK manages to navigate  the complex “Net Neutrality” waters perfectly, while still remaining an affirming and deeply relevant snapshot of our time.

You will not want to miss the opportunity to see this important film at this week’s AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs festival.

NOTE: Thursday’s, 6/24  4:30 screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Georgia Sugimura Archer, Michael Bracy (Policy Director, Future of Music Coalition), the film’s subject and New America Foundation technology consultant Robb Topolski, Michael Winship (President, Writers Guild of America East), and moderator Nancy Marshall-Genzer, NPR Marketplace Senior Reporter.

You might also want to attend the Silverdocs Conference discussion with Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission about the Future of Media project and other issues facing the FCC. Thursday 6/24 at 11:30am.

– C.W. Prather is a member of the SilverDocs 2010 screening committee.

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