All About Our National Appetite for Intellect

 Velvet Prisons: Russell Jacoby on American Academia<span class= Velvet Prisons: Russell Jacoby on American Academia
(2013) on IMDb

Velvet Prisons is an hour-length documentary exploring critiques by maverick scholar Russell Jacoby of the foibles of the American academy, political life, and popular culture from the 1950s to the present. This captivating interview examines the fate of public intellectuals, the neutering of radical inquiry in universities, the need for daring utopian thought, the scourge of bad academic writing, the inspiring legacy of C. Wright Mills, the blight of pop psychology, the free-wheeling impact of the 1960s, alternative media, the Occupy movement that will not die, and the 'planned obsolescence of thinking' in a proudly anti-intellectual society.

All these issues connect to a larger question: what does the 'life of the mind' mean in contemporary America? It is a question that Jacoby, himself a stubbornly round peg in the square hole of modern academia, is uniquely qualified to address. This documentary enables viewers to enjoy or be enraged by one of the most interesting intellectual figures of our time.

The gadfly academic is the author of Social Amnesia, The End of Utopia, The Repression of Psychoanalysis, The Last Intellectuals, Dialectic of Defeat, The Bell Curve Debate (co-editor), Picture Imperfect, Dogmatic Wisdom, and Bloodlust: On the Roots of Violence from Cain and Abel to the Present. Jacoby is Professor in Residence in the Department of History at UCLA.