Do you blindly love Joe Rogan? Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Scout Hutchinson, Opinion Editor

Content warning: Videos linked in this article contain extremely offensive and racist language.

In the past couple of weeks one name in the news has become unavoidable, whether it is his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccinations or usage of the N-word: Joe Rogan. 

Joe Rogan is no stranger to conflict, he thrives off of it. The conflict that he creates has not only given him fame but has proven, once again, that controversy and racism can be monetized. 

While Joe Rogan seems to be everywhere nowadays, his most unfiltered and dangerous thoughts are on his long-running podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Spotify has given a significant value to Rogan’s platform—100 million dollars. However, this high valuation and implicit endorsement of his content by Spotify has brought many people to question whether or not it is dangerous for his podcast to be on such a large and accessible platform. 

Since Spotify has announced their purchase of Rogan’s entire podcast library, older (but ultimately not that old) footage has surfaced of not only Rogan repeatedly using racist slurs, but also pandering to racist stereotypes in order to get a laugh.

Before I go on, I feel the need to say that this article will not address the absurd argument that many supporters of Rogan have said in his defense, which is that the N-word can be used by non-black people in a specific context as long as it is not intended to be racist. To my fellow white people, just stop. It’s getting old, and it is extremely racist to continue using the N-word, regardless of circumstance.

Some of you may be wondering why there would need to be another article on a man who should probably just be ignored and de-platformed.

However, Joe Rogan can be used as an example of what it means to say racist things in the age of celebrity apology videos and a specific online culture that creates what most refer to as “cancel culture” that only lasts until the internet moves on without any real accountability. 

This article does not intend to create a #joeroganiscancelled trend or advocate for his continued presence online, but instead to look at how apologies for racism impact the way in which people will view racism and their own personal actions. 

While Joe Rogan did release an apology, he refused to state that he was racist but instead stated his ignorance and that many of the videos were taken out of context. He stated his regret, and claimed that he never used the word to be racist.

“I am not racist.” Rogan said. “But whenever you are in a situation where you have to say you are not racist you fucked up. And I clearly fucked up.”

Not only did Rogan repeatedly use the N-word, but a video also resurfaced of him referring to black people as apes

“I was just trying to be entertaining,” he added. “I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist, and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.” And, no, the context doesn’t matter for this one either. 

In a video addressing Joe Rogan, Daily Show Host Trevor Noah notes that apology videos are becoming extremely unproductive because the subjects refuse to acknowledge how their actions are connected to themselves. 

“People do a thing that’s racist and then go it’s not racist. . . people are just truly petrified about having the label racist branded on them for life. That’s what people are really afraid of. No one wants to be called a racist cause then they are like how long am I racist for, am I racist for life, am I racist I can’t get jobs? I just want to be racist but I don’t want to be called a racist,” Noah said. 

The minute someone is prompted to connect themselves, not just their actions, to racism, they refuse to acknowledge it and ultimately go back on their apology by claiming they “would never say something racist,” “I am not a racist individual” or that it wasn’t their intention for it to come off that way. This does not allow anyone to take accountability for their actions. 

So why should we even care what celebrities have to say, especially their half-assed apology videos? 

Ultimately, the content that people watch and listen to informs their beliefs and understanding of the world. What Joe Rogan says to his massive audience is important, even if we wish it wasn’t.

Joe Rogan’s apology does very little in contributing to understanding how racism affects people and shows a lack of accountability. No one is saying that someone cannot grow from what they have done and unlearn the systematic racism that we are all immersed in every day. However, until we can fully admit to our actions and take full responsibility for them we will just continue an ongoing cycle of half-assed apologies in order to ultimately save ourselves from being labeled racist. And that doesn’t help anyone.