Personality cult is perhaps a bit too tame a descriptive for the following young actor Shia LaBeouf has attracted recently. Celebrity worship has become quite literal for a small group of Shia fans who have gotten together and actually declared their adoration a new religion. They call it Shiantology. It has a founding date–February 8, 2009–a set of novel beliefs, including Shiacarnation and “an extrascientific method of pshiachotherapy,” aka Shianetics, a web page, a facebook page, a twitter feed, and a MesShia, which, of course, is LeBeouf. It also has its own form of devotional art, called ShiART, that consists basically of photoshopping Shia’s face over the faces of religious icons and other religious artwork. There’s even Shia graffiti, in the form of Shiatickers, posted on some neighborhood signs.
The Google search page describes Shiantology as a “fictional religion” but the devotees themselves, while obviously lighthearted (to say the least), present it simply as “a new religion.” As the official website states, it is a religion “characterized by a belief in the power of Shia’s spirit to clear itself of past painful experiences (in particular, hand smashing car crashes and drunken outbursts in Walgreens) through self-knowledge, spiritual fulfillment and copious amounts of Arizona Ice Tea.” It appears to be primarily an Internet movement for the time being, but who knows, they may someday construct their own churches, shiarines, and perhaps even a temple to their MesShiah.
From Exotics to Brainwashers: Portraying New Religions in Mass Media
By Sean McCloud, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
(Vol. 1, August 2006)
By Jody Myers , California State University, Northridge
(Vol. 3, May 2008)
By Jill Caravelli
From The International Encyclopedia of Communication