City Paper is not for tourists
Here’s what Barbershop Punk is about, basically: (1) net neutrality, the notion that Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to restrict access based on types of traffic, even peer-to-peer file sharing; (2) Robb Topolski, a lover of barbershop music who discovered that Comcast was blocking his ability to share musical works even though they were in the public domain, and who helped raise the neutrality issue to national prominence; (3) punk. So it’s not completely, um, discordant that this film by Georgia C. Archer and Kristin Armfield features a handful of techies and policy wonks and yet begins with these words from D.C. punk icon Ian MacKaye: “As long as there’s been a mainstream there’s been a counterculture, and that’s what I’ve been looking for in my life. I kept looking around like ‘Where’s the positive, creative, constructive world, or community that questions conventional thinking on every level, where is this community?’ And for me I found it in punk rock.” Fine, so the punk analogy is basically window dressing, and the use of frequency gurgles and broadcast hiss as between-chapter transitions lends the movie a heavy-handed, conspiratorial tone. But as a quick-start guide to a complex issue, Barbershop Quartet works. As a David and Goliath tale in which a pudgy barbershop singer (with, OK, the help of lawyers, academics, and the FCC) whups Comcast? Awesome.
At 4:30 p.m.; also on Friday, June 25, at 8:30 p.m. Both screenings at AFI Silver Theater 2.