Weeks ago, artists and content creators started pulling away from Spotify since the platform was allowing Joe Rogan to be careless when discussing COVID-19. The likes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Brené Brown, Joni Mitchell, and others either suspended production or asked for all their work to be removed until the streamer handled what they deemed as his “misinformation.”
Rogan’s take was he wanted “to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view,” and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted that he would visit The Joe Rogan Experience so they could share some Teremana tequila together.
However, since videos surfaced Rogan’s extensive use of the N-word, his comparison Black Philadelphians to Planet of the Apes, and other disparaging comments, more creatives are openly distancing themselves from Spotify and the comedian altogether.
Roxanne Gay said she was taking her show of the service. And India Arie coolly acknowledged Rogan’s right to freedom of speech, but she also said she would no longer subsidize the podcaster and put forth snippet after snippet of Rogan repeating the slur.
So author Don Winslow then challenged Johnson about whether he would still support Rogan. (The actor’s father was Afro-Canadian while his mother is Samoan.) “You’re a hero to many people and using your platform to defend Joe Rogan, a guy that used and laughed about using the N word dozens of times, is a terrible use of your power,” Winslow tweeted at the former WWF/WWE world champ. “Have you actually listened to this man’s many racist statements about Black people?”
Johnson replied that he was unaware of Rogan’s history with the N-word and now considered himself “educated” — but stopped short of categorically denouncing Rogan’s racist content. “Learning moment for me,” Johnson replied to Winslow. “Mahalo, brother and have a great & productive weekend.”
For Rogan’s part, he’s since issued an apology over his past use of the word as well as some of his jokes. “It’s not my word to use. I am well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” he said during a six-minute IG video. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist.”
“I was trying to make the story entertaining, and I said we got out and it was like we were in Africa,” he added. “It’s like we were in Planet of the Apes,” Rogan emphasized, reiterating that there was no racist intent behind his comment but it was still “an idiotic thing” to say.
Since the then, Spotify has also silently removed about 70 episodes of JRE, but company CEO Daniel Ek said that it was the comedian’s decision. “I want to make one point very clear — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer,” he wrote in a company letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.”
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