Recent years have produced an influx of popular documentaries of Indian gurus who founded transnational spiritual communities and became embroiled in various forms of controversy. One example of this is Wild Wild Country, a 2018 Netflix documentary that depicts the rise and fall of a spiritual community, started by an Indian guru named Osho (1931-1990) in a failed attempt to build a utopian commune in Oregon. American representations of Asian religious figures have historically been a complex, and often prejudiced, affair. This thesis will attempt to assert the best fit theoretical framework with which to interpret Wild Wild Country, between Edward Said's Orientalism and J. J. Clarke's Affirmative Orientalism. Alongside these frameworks, the thesis will incorporate the theoretical framework of Virtual Orientalism by Jane Iwamura, and scholarly analyses of Osho from Marion Goldman and Hugh Urban. My thesis will explore the documentary's representations of Hinduism, race, sexuality, capitalism, and culture. The original contribution of the project will be an analysis of Osho in the primary source material Wild Wild Country. Utilizing the postcolonial scholarship produced by scholars such as Edward Said, Richard King, and Jane Iwamura, as well as the alternative framework of Affirmative Orientalism used by J.J. Clarke, the project will attempt to dissect the American media representation of the "mystic East" broadly, and of the Hindu religious leader Osho, specifically.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Wood, E. K. D., "Wild Wild Country: Netflix, Orientalism, and the Guru" (2023). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1443.