With the latest news surrounding Joe Rogan, you’re probably thinking, who has the time to actually explain this to me from start to finish? It’s me, I do! Happy #TrendingTuesday everybody.
Whether you’re like me and remember NBC’s ‘Fear Factor’ as one of your favorite game shows, you listen to The Joe Rogan Experience or, simply, frequent social media, you have surely seen Rogan’s name over the past few days in light of recent controversy. For those of you who really have no idea who this guy is, here is a quick run-down:
Who is Joe Rogan?
Rogan, 54, was born in Newark, New Jersey, and began his career as a stand-up comedian in Boston, according to Essentially Sports. His first “mainstream” popularity came from hosting NBC’s ‘Fear Factor,’ a gameshow in which contestants compete against one another, faced with nasty dares and anxiety-inducing challenges, for a chance to win $50,000. The show first aired in 2001 and ended in 2006.
Rogan entered into the sporting world as an Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) commentator around 2003 and has remained one of the top ten commentators for fights since. He is the voice of 10 shows a year now, Essential Sports said.
Along with his other ventures, Rogan started his infamous podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, in 2009 and it has since turned into a platform for various celebrities and pop-culture icons to come and discuss conspiracies, political views and other “taboo” topics.
That basically brings us to present-day where Rogan has made a name for himself as a man of many hats—risky comedy, “fight talk,” weed legalization-advocate and bold opinion-maker, to name a few.
What’s everyone talking about right now?
Rogan’s podcast was ranked as Spotify’s #1 most streamed show in 2021. One week ago, however, on Jan. 31, Grammy-winner singer-songwriter, India Arie, shared a post to her Instagram account (@indiaarie) explaining that she is removing her music and podcast from Spotify.
Arie also posted videos of herself pinned to the “highlights” tab on her Instagram page. In the videos she shows a compilation of past interviews Rogan has done where he regularly uses the ‘n’ word.
“I think Joe Rogan has the right to say what he wants to say,” she said. “I also have the right to say what I want to say […] Spotify is built on the back of the music streaming industry; so, they take this money that is built from streaming, they pay this guy $100 million, but they pay us [artists] 0.03% of a penny? Just take me off!” she said. “I don’t want to generate money that pays him.”
Arie ended her statement explaining that her words are not to be taken out of context on where she stands.
“He should not even be uttering the word,” she said. “That is what this is about. We [artists, and specifically, Black artists] generate this money and you invest in him? Take me off or pay me [us] too.”
As seen in her Instagram post and other trending news articles, this all sparked after Canadian-singer, Neil Young, removed his music from Spotify to protest the company’s lack of attention to Rogan’s podcast after a New Year’s Eve episode coined as spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
Now, 270 scientists and medical professionals have written an open letter to Spotify, saying that Rogan allowing claims to go unchecked can ‘damage public trust in scientific research,’ according to the Independent.
As of Wednesday, the White House joined the conversation about COVID-19 misinformation on Spotify. The Washington Post reports in depth on the Spotify specifics here.
“Our hope is that all major tech platforms and all major news sources, for that matter, be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19,” Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said.
As you can imagine, Rogan has since released apology statements that are posted as a video post to his Instagram page (@joerogan)
Rogan begins by acknowledging the video posted to Arie’s account, stating that the clips were each taken out of context over the course of 12 years of him hosting his show. He then goes into his personal explanation saying it is “the most regretful and shameful thing” he has had to speak about publicly.
“There is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, let alone publicly on a podcast,” he said. “And I know that now.”
“For the longest time instead of saying ‘the n word,’ I would just say the [actual] word,” he explained. “I thought that as long as I used it in context, it was fine.”
He mentions times when he was directly quoting Lenny Bruce, Quentin Tarantino or other notable names using the word.
“There is not another word like it in the entire English language,” he said. “Only one group of people are allowed to use it and in so many different ways. It can be an insult, a punchline, a term of endearment […]. it is a very unusual word, but it is not my word to use.”
Rogan concluded his video by saying he hopes that, if nothing else, this can be used as a learning experience for other white people to reevaluate their own vocabulary and behavior. He is not a racist, he claims, but knows that if someone finds themselves in a situation where they are convincing others they are “not racist,” then they fucked up.
“And I fucked up,” he said.
So, now what?
Rogan and Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, both issued statements regarding some 70+ episodes of Rogan’s show that have been removed from the platform due to racist statements or misinformation.
Neil Young issued a statement on his website to Spotify employees to “get out of that place before it eats up your soul,” he said, stating the only goals listed by Daniel Ek are about numbers, not art.
India Arie has not posted recently, but the video stating her choice to remove her podcast from Spotify’s platform has trickled down and various other creators such as Roxanne Gay, Joni Mitchell and others have removed their content from the platform.
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