I like Joe Rogan. It's a confession that in some circles might be considered embarrassing. Certainly, some of my friends (LA comedians in their late 20's/early 30's) find his stances intolerable or hate his meathead persona, but they also think TikTok is a viable way that they can get famous, so I don't put much stock into it. I, too, wouldn't stand by many of Joe Rogan's views, and I don't agree with much of his politics, but I don't expect to. I take the guy for who he is, and it's why I can appreciate the times where he blows my mind with discussions of quantum physics and why I can also laugh along when he wrecks his toilet after an all-meat diet. The guy gives a great interview, and I think he tries his best to remain honest.
That's why it worries me that Joe Rogan just signed a 100 million dollar deal with Spotify. Rogan promises things won't change saying, "It will remain free, and it will be the exact same show. It's just a licensing deal, so Spotify won't have any creative control over the show." But there are two problems with this. For one, no one hands you 100 million dollars and expects things to remain the same, even if they tell you they do. Joe Rogan is now the face of Spotify podcasting. What he does, on and off the mic is a reflection on them and could affect their subscriber base. There will be an implicit expectation that Rogan does whatever he can to maintain that subscriber base, and if he thinks this isn't going to be a point of contention, then he can ask Howard Stern about it. After all, this isn't just one man's personal wealth we're talking about anymore. Spotify's stock is on the line, which means jobs are on the line.
But there's also the fact that 100 million dollars tends to change a person. It just does, and as much as Rogan will still want to portray himself as a humble everyman looking to smoke a little weed and learn a little bit about science, it will no doubt make it harder for him to stay grounded. Perhaps that explains his recent foray into Obamagate, which politics aside, he doesn't seem to be attacking from an angle of scrutiny.
It's like he's trying to overcorrect here and prove to us and Spotify that, "Yeah, I might have signed the 100 million dollar deal, but I'm still the same old Joe who pushes boundaries and says whatever he wants." But Joe Rogan is at his best, not just when he pushes boundaries, but when he stays true to himself and challenges something that he thinks is bullshit. Here's a video where he defends gay marriage against Ben Shapiro, and I feel Rogan nails it.
And here's a video where he tackles a more uncertain topic of if Sandra Bland was murdered or committed suicide, with guest Malcolm Gladwell (I think both guys here bring up good points.)
But maybe I'm overthinking the Obamagate thing. Maybe the Spotify deal will be fine. The thing about Joe Rogan is, while I like him, I don't love him and, while I know there's a vocal portion of his fanbase who will follow him into the gaping anus of Cerberus, let alone Spotify, I wonder how much of the fanbase feels the same way as I do. I probably won't join Spotify just to get more Joe Rogan, but I hope for those who do, that he remains worth it.
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Top Image: The Joe Rogan Experience