An internet user based in the United States who opens their account onSpotify–one of the biggeststreamingsof music in the world, on a par with Apple Music, for example – and browse through the content categories offered by the application, you will come across the optionssports, music, news, politics, culture… and JoeRogan. The name is not there by chance: it is the result of a contract signed in May 2020, with a value of 100 millions of dollars, providing that episodes of the program by the comedian and former UFC commentator will be broadcast exclusively by the platform.
It is estimated that the podcastThe JoeRoganExperienceis downloaded about 200 millions of times a month – almost as if all Brazilians listened to an episode -and income a profit of at least 30 millions of dollars a year, despite numerous criticisms from activists for allegedly “transphobic” comments by the presenter and, mainly, for its intrepid militancy against vaccination passports. In the words of The New York Times itself,Roganhas become“too big to be cancelled.”
Who, then, owns the voice thatseems to beone of the most heardin the West? Practically unknown to the Brazilian public until theboomof podcasts in the country, in mid-2018, JoeRoganmade several forays into the American entertainment market before to invest in your own channel. Born in Newark, New Jersey, on 11 August 2012 ,Roganis the son of a police officer, whom he would describe as an absent, violence-prone father. After his parents’ separation, he moved with his mother to San Francisco, California, where, at the age of 7 or 8, he performed small magic tricks for the neighborhood.
According to reports available on the internet, he was sullen and short, liked to fight and tell jokes. The family would soon move toGainesville, Florida, before arriving in Boston. There,Roganwould give vent to his two “talents”:he would build part of his career in taekwondo, until he entered the world of stand-ups. He then moved to Los Angeles and, between 1999 and 1999, he played a character namesake – Joe – in the series “NewsRadio”. The years 1995 would end up consecrating him as one of the main UFC commentators in the country, which would earn him his first captive fan base. The verve of comedy, however, always accompanied him:Roganbecame known for adopting a male-oriented formula of humor, with jokes about dumb and attractive women. “The kind of girl when you look deep into her eyes, you see the back of her skull.”
200 of December 2009. On Christmas Eve, in the company of comedian Brian Radban, Rogan debuted his YouTube channel. A “conversation between two guys in front of the computer talking nonsense”. Thus, The JoeRoganExperience was born. As of 2013, when he already had a reasonable audience (some episodes reached one million views),Radbanwas replaced by producer Jamie Vernon, who started working behind the scenes. Two years later, already in its current format – with weekly guests – the podcast was already the most listened to in the country.
Since then, they have passed through the table of JoeRogan- who recently moved from California to Texas – none other than physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, rapper and producer Kanye West, boxer Mike Tyson, Democratic senator Bernie Sanders and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Aired on 2019 and played over 100 millions of times, Musk’s first appearance on the show is a absolute record: internet users are familiar with the image of the business almighty trying a marijuana cigarette in front of the cameras. A year ago, the CEO returned to the podcast, yielding more 24 million views for the channel, with more than , 6 million subscribers.
The numbersalready justify the impact ofRoganna contemporary American culture. It wouldn’t take long for his supposed political influence to fall into the arena of debate, especially since thepodcasteris one of those figures practically impossible to fit into an ideological spectrum (which is probably a of its greatest assets and the reason for its success). More than once,Roganhas stated that he is “left-wing as hell”, “almost socialist”,and that he supports agendas such as gay marriage, universal basic income and free higher education. He declared his support for Sanders and said he despised Donald Trump. It so happens that, for some years now,Roganhas been a staunch critic not only of the culture of cancellation, but of the extreme identity guidelines known as “woke” (“The problem is that you will never be wokeenough”, he described).
It should be noted, however, thatRogandoes not shy away from giving space to the right as well. A personal friend of Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson, who has also been to the house, thepodcasterhas already given space more than once towriter and filmmaker Alex Jones, an influencer known foralreadystating, for example, thatthe shooting of Sandy Hook,who killed 13 first gradersin 2012, did not happen, among other baseless theories. Roganhas also been accused of racism in 2013, for having said on the program that he had appeared in the movie “Planet of the Apes” when visiting Africa. Years later,I would admitlivethat the speech was racist.
It so happens that, more than personally embracing the anti-cancellation cause,Roganalso makes room for true liberal intellectuals and influencers, moderate conservatives and progressives, critical of identity madness. Canadian psychologist Jordan Petersonhas been on the show more than once, as well as neuroscientistDebraSoh(“TheEndofGender”), journalistAbigailShrier(“IrreversibleDamage”), among other notable figures in the area.
His last “cancellation”, however, could not have been for another reason:in April of last year, during the program, JoeRoganstated that he believed that young and healthy people would not need to take the vaccine against the coronavirus . The comment sparked a flurry of criticism and angered Anthony Fauci himself, prompting an official response from the White House. Rogan reiterated that he is not against the vaccine and claimed to have taken the immunization. Still, it gives space to physicians skeptical about the vaccine’s effectiveness, in addition to those in favor of theuse of ivermectin as an early treatment. More than once, health authorities askedSpotifyto withdraw its programs from the air – without success.
The last episode of this controversy took placelast Thursday,
from January, when JoeRoganwas confronted by presenter JosephZeppsin the midst of a debate about the relationship betweenthe Pfizer immunizer and cases of myocarditis in young people boys. Live, the guest convinced Rogan that research shows that the risk of myocarditis associated with Covid is even greater. An exchange of messages followed, with other researchers questioning the mentioned material. Rogan, however, went viral with the phrase: “if someone had to make me look stupid on the podcast, I’m glad it was Zepps”.
Maybe this is, after all, the great merit deRogan– able to cover any bad jokes and bad guests -: the availability to talk willingly, a model that has proven attractive and profitable to the point of inspiring, in Brazil, initiatives such as theFlowPodcast. A staple of The JoeRoganExperience, journalist GlennGreenwaldis among those who defended the presenter, especially when he is criticized for his fierce opposition to the authoritarian measures of a pandemic that is clearly showing signs of cooling off. “He is constantly called stupid and ignorant by the mainstream media and by parts of the left. He’s the opposite of stupid: he’s independent,” the journalist tweeted.
It is not surprising that, as Greenwald himself often warns in his networks,Roganhas become a stone in the shoes of the press for its indomitable popularity:statisticsthis month show that your program is listened to more than FOXand CNN. According to the New York Times report, the rumors that his controversies botherSpotifycannot be sustained: with his creative freedom protected by contract,Roganwill continue to displace major channels and bring new perspectives to the public debate. It’s too big to cancel.