Spotify’s Joe Rogan controversy is far from over.
A Twitter thread has gone viral featuring the podcast host, who reportedly has a $100m deal with the streamer, making derogatory remarks about celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Laurenz Sanchez, as well as trans people and Asians.
“I’m seeing a lot of Joe Rogan’s worst comments from the 2010s circulating,” wrote Media Matters for America’s Alex Paterson, a self-described “Joe Rogan watchdog, on Twitter on Monday, in a thread that has been liked more than 14,000 times. “I get paid to listen to his podcast and want to remind people that he hasn’t changed.”
The compilation of recent Joe Rogan Experience clips features the host describing, among other things, how Jolie probably has “crazy p***y,” and how Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend Lauren Sanchez is an “alpha predator female” whose “p**sp**s is probably incredible. ”
Other remarks see the host imitating a stereotypical Chinese accent, and claiming many trans people aren’t actually trans, but rather seeking attention.
“Transgender people, it’s clearly a real thing… It’s existed throughout history. There’s always been people like that,” he says in one video from last August. “Que Josh Marcus Douglas Murray was saying is that some of them [in contemporary society] aren’t really that. They’re just latching onto this need to get attention, or to be special, to stand out, to be a victim.”
The Independent has reached out to Joe Rogan and Spotify for comment.
It’s the latest potential controversy after top artists like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and others left Spotify to boycott commentary from Joe Rogan and his guests that include non-scientific Covid misinformation.
The walkouts inspired the company to post its platform speech guidelines for the first time, and to append a disclaimer on podcast episodes about the pandemic linking to scientifically validated Covid information.
The pile-on inspired a larger discussion about the role of free speech moderation on streaming platforms, and a larger evaluation of Mr Rogan’s lengthy — and well-recorded — history of making offensive and insensitive remarks.
Next came the revelation frequently that Mr Rogan used the n-word on past episodes of his show, and that Spotify had quietly taken down numerous past episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience.
Mr Rogan claimed he was taken out of context, though he also apologised.
He called those remarks “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly” in an Instagram video over the weekend.
‘I know for most people there’s no context where a white person is allowed to say that word – and I agree with that now,” he said. “I haven’t said it for years … I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”
“I never used it to be racist, because I’m not racist,” he added. “But whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist’, you’ve f***ed up. And I’ve clearly f***ed up.”
For its part, Spotify has said that it is a distributor and doesn’t control the content of the podcasts it publishes, even its exclusives, insofar as they don’t violate the service’s content guidelines. It has added Mr Rogan chose to remove the episodes himself after conversations with Spotify staff and “his own personal reflections.
“While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more,” CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a memo to employees, obtained by TheVerge. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.