Net Neutrality — A Cosmic Battle for Democracy


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How do you take an issue that can seem geeky, remote, and impossible to explain and translate it into a compelling story that gets the attention it deserves?

That was the challenge we faced in directing the latest video, Independence Day — which premiered on 18 December 2006 on YouTube and

Click Here to Watch The Video
Independence Day
On Dec. 19, it was YouTube’s “Top Rated”

But from the moment we first doodled this flying saucer image onto a napkin, we thought we might be onto something.

More than just a visual gimmick, the UFO frame fits the battle for Net Neutrality surprisingly well.

First, because the phone and cable companies really are aliens to our democracy.  They’re the ones who want to overrun our Congress to change the way the Internet works — replacing the “level playing field” we know today their “gatekeeper” system.

And secondly because they’re phony “Astroturf” groups have been disguising themselves as Internet-friendly activists (“Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-style) that are actually paid front groups.  Hands off the Internet may look and talk like us — but watch for the telltale green pods hidden in their back yards. . . .

And lastly, the whole “Mars Attacks” theme helps to communicate something fundamental: that there’s a battle going on for the future of the Internet, and that citizens need to inform themselves and take action.

The classic UFO films — including 1996’s “Independence Day” — often involve pitting good, old-fashioned American values against otherworldly invaders: standing up for the American way of life and justice for the little guy.  We wanted to invoke similar feelings in telling the Coalition’s story, and show how Net Neutrality is as American as Elvis.

The outstanding music of The Roots and REM (both active supporters of our campaign) help bring our rebellion to life.  A host of other Net heroes — including Congressman Ed Markey, Amanda Congdon, Tron Guy, Moby, and Ask-a-Ninja — are featured throughout.

When the members of our New Congress show up for work on January 4, our goal is to FLOOD their answering machines and in-boxes with pro-Net Neutrality messages.  So if you like the video, please help us by doing three things:

By acting now, we can keep the Internet — and America — free from gatekeeper control in 2007.

Matt Thompson is the Director of‘s “Independence Day.”

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