Starving The Beast

Watch Starving The Beast

  • NR
  • 2016
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 7.1  (46)
  • 77

Starving the Beast is a 2016 documentary film that deep-dives into the crisis of state funding in public education in the United States. The film is directed and produced by Steve Mims and co-produced by Bill Banowsky. The documentary stars political strategist James Carville, cultural historian Siva Vaidhyanathan, and several prominent American university professors, administrators, and policymakers.

The film starts by outlining the history of the American public university system, which began in the early 19th century. The film describes the founding of universities like the University of Virginia as a way to promote civic education and provide an educated workforce for the young nation. Over time, the film shows how the university evolved from an ivory tower to an engine of economic growth as public universities expanded and focused more on research and development.

The film then examines how higher education funding evolved in the 20th century. In the mid-20th century, state funding for public universities reached a high point. However, with the rise of Reaganism and conservative politics in the 1980s, there was a backlash against the perceived "elitism" of higher education. State legislatures began to cut funding for public universities, and universities had to turn to private funding sources to make up the deficit.

The film then points out the connection between the reduction in public university funding and the rise of neoliberalism in America. The film contends that conservative activists and politicians view public education as a government expenditure that hinders economic growth, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The film argues that neoliberal ideology drives state-level decisions to cut education funding, privatize universities, and reduce opportunities for minority and lower-income students.

The film also describes the way that university administrators and policymakers have responded to the funding crisis. It shows how public universities have been forced to increase tuition fees and rely on corporate sponsorships to fund research. The film further highlights how these changes have resulted in a lack of diversity in higher education and an emphasis on research that generates profit rather than benefiting society.

The film then scrutinizes funding cuts at several state universities, including Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin. It shows how these cuts have impacted the lives of students and faculty members, and how the reduction in funding has caused a decline in the quality of education in these institutions. The film argues that the state-level funding crisis is a challenge to the future of public education and the American dream itself.

The film concludes by suggesting that the only solution to the public education crisis is through greater investment in education, both by the government and private sector. It advocates for policies that increase funding for public schools and universities, reduce student debt, and prioritize diversity and inclusiveness in higher education. The film leaves the audience questioning whether the American public education system can survive without government support, and whether the ideals of equal opportunity and social mobility can be reconciled with the priorities of neoliberalism.

In conclusion, Starving the Beast is a thought-provoking documentary that critiques the impact of conservative politics and neoliberalism on America's public education system. The film provides a powerful narrative of how the public university system transformed over the centuries, and how political forces have sought to undermine public education over the last few decades. The film calls for greater investment in public education and is an essential piece of viewing for anyone concerned about the future of higher education in America.

Starving The Beast is a 2016 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 77.

Where to Watch Starving The Beast
Starving The Beast is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Starving The Beast for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (46)
  • Metascore