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Joe Rogan Is Scared Woke Culture Will Silence Straight White Men. His Numbers Prove Otherwise.
Late last month, when walking back his asinine comments that young people should not get the COVID-19 vaccine, Joe Rogan had a rare moment of clarity: “I’m a fucking moron,” he said. And this week, on the latest episode of his Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, the host proved once again why he is indeed a fucking moron.
While interviewing comedian Joe List, Rogan went on a tangent about his fear of “woke culture” silencing “straight white men.”
“You can never be woke enough that’s the problem, it keeps going,” Rogan said. “It keeps going further and further down the line and if you get to the point where you capitulate, where you agree to all these demands, it’ll eventually get to straight white men are not allowed to talk, because it’s your privilege to express yourself when other people of color have been silenced throughout history.”
He continued: “It will be, you’re not allowed to go outside. Because so many people were imprisoned for so many—”
When List laughed, Rogan said: “I’m not joking, it really will get there. It’s that crazy.”
Rogan gets an estimated 11 million listeners per episode and reaches “nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC,” according to the Washington Post. He also reportedly gets more than 200 million downloads monthly. Unless he was performing at the Super Bowl halftime show every month, it’s hard to find a bigger platform to say dumb shit than The Joe Rogan Experience. And despite the fact that he has given this platform to the likes of Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other far-right, transphobic, and anti-feminist trolls, Rogan still has the most listened-to podcast in the country. In 2020, he made a $100 million deal with Spotify to be his exclusive streaming platform. And the closest he’s gotten to being silenced is when, shortly after that deal, Spotify quietly removed episodes with Jones, Yiannopoulos, and comedian Chris D’Elia, who was accused of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls. Despite all that, Rogan is still free to say whatever the hell he wants to say when he wants to say it.
When people get mad about the dumb shit Rogan says on his podcast, he usually responds with a common refrain. As he said in February of 2019:
“There’s certain people that I’ll have on, whether it’s Alex Jones or anyone that’s controversial, where people who get fucking mad. ‘Why are you giving this person a platform?’ OK. Hmm. I didn’t think about it that way, and I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. I think I’m talking to people, and you can listen.”
Or more recently, as he said after his vaccination comments: “When I say something stupid, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it. I’m just saying it.”
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Where else in the world does a performer have the luxury and privilege of saying dumb shit without thinking and having it enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people a month? When I wrote about Rogan’s vaccination claims last month, my mentions were flooded with his fans telling me to chill out because it’s just a podcast, echoing the host’s own defense of his stupidity. But it’s not just a podcast, it’s a platform that reaches a huge audience that takes every dumb joke that Rogan says seriously. Even if he’s not thinking before he speaks, his words matter. Even if he doesn’t believe what he says, or if he’s just doing it to piss people off, abusing a platform this large can have real consequences.
Beyond the obvious fallacy of his claim about “woke culture,” Rogan is simply wrong. At one point in the latest episode he asks: “Can you make a good comedy movie anymore, or have they made it so dangerous in terms of being canceled, that comedy movies are no longer something you can do?”
Palm Springs, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, Bill & Ted: Face the Music, The Farewell, Booksmart, Always Be My Maybe, Long Shot, Good Boys, Jo Jo Rabbit, were all pretty damn funny comedy movies without saying anything racist, sexist or homophobic.
Matt is the Culture Editor at Esquire where he covers music, movies, books, and TV—with an emphasis on all things Star Wars, Marvel, and Game of Thrones.
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