Myth Making and the Mischaracterization of Joe Rogan
Monsters have a special place in mythology. They are beasts of chaos, lurking with sinister intent. In Greek mythology, Medusa had the power to end a person’s life with a single glance. Ancient Iranians spoke of the griffin, a fabulous creature who possessed the head, beak, and wings of an eagle, the body of a lion, and the tail of a serpent. An apex predator, the griffin was known to swoop down and kill anything or anyone in its path.
Fast forward to 2021, and monstrous beings can still be found, many of them inhabiting the realms of social media. In Texas, for example, there resides an elk-devouring, heavily tattooed, crossbow-carrying, ape-like creature. The beast goes by the name of Joe Rogan.
Is there currently a more polarizing figure in the United States than the 53-year old comedian, podcast host, and UFC commentator?
Elon Musk? Perhaps. But let’s agree that Joe Rogan is an irrefutably divisive figure. Why is this the case?
Is it because he happens to be a misogynist and a racist? Oh, and a transphobe, too. Or has it more to do with the fact that, for years, left-leaning outlets have portrayed Rogan as a cruel, heartless predator, and have grossly exaggerated the threat he poses to society?
Take the accusations of misogyny leveled against Rogan. They simply don’t add up. Considering he is married to a woman and has two young daughters, and appears to be both a loving husband and father, Rogan’s supposed prejudice against women appears to be a myth, a complete fabrication. What about all the work he has done to help female comics? Rogan has provided a platform to female comedians for years. Are these the actions of a misogynist?
What about the accusations of racism? Do they hold any water? Well, no. One of his closest friends is Dave Chappelle, a man whose last three specials have explored the topic of race relations in great detail. Ask yourself this: would a man as enlightened as Chappelle pal around with a racist?
Watch Rogan commentate at UFC events. He sits beside a man named Daniel Cormier, a retired UFC fighter who happens to be Black. He also happens to be a close friend of Rogan’s. Watch the two men regularly embrace. It is a thing of beauty, not racism.
What about the accusations of transphobia leveled against Rogan? Are they also grossly exaggerated? Yes.
In 2020, Rogan discussed the controversy of allowing trans women to compete in the same sports as biological women. Rogan was speaking as a father of two young girls. He was also speaking as a martial arts expert who witnessed a transgender female fighter break her opponent’s skull. To paint Rogan as a hateful monster is to frame his concerns in a truly disingenuous manner. He was speaking as a concerned parent and a concerned human being.
Portraying Rogan as a callous monster, one feels, is part of the plan. An article from 2020, which appeared in Vice, for example, ran with the title “Spotify CEO Defends Keeping Transphobic Joe Rogan Podcasts Online”. Before you even read it, if you’re unfamiliar with Rogan, you assume that transphobia is a given. After all, it says it in the headline. It must be true!
More recently, Rogan has been criticized for discussing the dangers of “cancel culture,” especially at it pertains to “straight, white men.”
Rogan wasn’t talking about himself being “canceled,” as he is far too influential to be silenced. He was speaking for the millions of white men around the world who feel targeted.
Of course, race matters, but, when judging the value of one’s existence, more important things exist than the color of one’s skin. But try telling this to Brian Stelter, arguably the most patronizing presenter around. The CNN presenter believes that Rogan uses controversy to grow his audience. Considering Stelter’s ratings are at their lowest point this year, perhaps he is using Rogan, a lightning rod for controversy, to try and grow his own audience. Rogan doesn’t need more viewers, but Stelter certainly does. Also, unlike Stelter, Rogan is beholden to absolutely no one. His thoughts are his own, his interviews are organic, and his conclusions come from a place of introspective thought.
Sometimes Rogan’s views are misinformed and even harmful. His latest vaccine faux pas was unfortunate. However, when criticizing an individual, it is important to ask one question: what was their intent?
Was Rogan intentionally trying to spread vaccine misinformation? Was he intentionally trying to endanger people’s lives? No. He misspoke. He made a mistake. His intentions, though, were pure, unlike so many of the left-leaning outlets that try to paint him as some sort of cold-blooded monster.
Also, just to reiterate, Rogan is a comedian, and a pretty damn good one, too. Sometimes he’s just cracking a joke, and sometimes the jokes fail. However, we are in the midst of a culture war, and there is little time for laughter.
They are called culture wars for a reason, and the purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy. In an age where identity politics is very much in fashion, what better enemy than an unapologetic, and extremely wealthy one.
Rogan’s monstrousness is a product of myth, a bogeyman created by the left to generate clicks and monetize outrage. If anything, the man who grew up without a father is an incredible success story. He is flawed but honest, sometimes brutally so. Rogan is many things, but a monster he is not.