From Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black’


Impermanence in popular culture.

In Netflix’s newest original series, ‘Orange is the New Black,’ the character known as Yoga Jones provides a stereotype of the aging hippie. The series is set inside a federal women’s prison. Jones leads yoga classes for the women in the prison and sprinkles her conversations with wisdom from “the East.” She mixes references to Zen Buddhism with her own yoga practice. Like those of the boomer generation she represents, Jones mixes and matches from various religious resources generally labeled “Asian.” That Zen meditation and hatha yoga have no connection to one another outside of American culture matters little. As Yoga Jones says, “Everything is temporary,” a phrase as vaguely Asian as it is vaguely obvious.


About Michael J. Altman

Michael J. Altman received his Ph.D. in American Religious Cultures from Emory University and is an Instructor in the Department of Religious Studies. Dr. Altman's areas of interest are American religious history, theory and method in the study of religion, the history of comparative religion, and Asian religions in American culture. Overall, Dr. Altman's research sits at the crossroads of American religious history and religious studies, using the theoretical insights of religious studies to dig deeper into what we mean by "religion" in religious history.

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