It may not be the latest religious fad in L.A., but Buddhism has certainly continued to attract celebrity practitioners unsatisfied with their own religions. From Richard Gere to Orlando Bloom, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch to Kate Bosworth, the adoption of Buddhism into celebrity culture has helped bring the Eastern religion into the Western conscience.From: Jordan Elgrably, "The Dream Factory: Oliver Stone and Barry Gifford Converse on the Production of Art in a Mass Market Culture" (interview) in Matador, Winter 1995 (http://www.jordanelgrably.com/stonegifford.html; viewed 1 July 2005):
King's University College professor of religious studies Amelia Gallagher noted, "Buddhism in the West can actually be traced back to the 1950s, with Jack Kerouac and the Beat poets... and became even trendier during the 1960s." What we're experiencing now, however, is that Western Buddhism has been removed from its counterculture, romantic roots and has been brought into the mainstream by way of contemporary mass media representations.
GIFFORD: ...I'm just talking about any institutionalized religion--any institutions, period. I was never into joining. I'm not a joiner, I'm not part of any group. There's no generation around me--and that's another difficult thing in terms of marketing. Where would Jack Kerouac be without Allen Ginsberg and his continual promotion of the Beat Generation over the last forty years? I mean, there's strength in numbers, in the group. Back when Lawrence Lee and I were doing the research for "Jack's Book" [a biography of Kerouac], there were writers we interviewed who did not want to be associated with the Beat Generation. They didn't want to be associated with the word "Beat", they wanted to be taken on their own terms. But now, for some of them, it's become their only claim to fame. They cling to it with the scraping of their fingernails, they do everything but tattoo the word "Beat" on their foreheads.