Last week, it seemed like the drama surrounding Joe Rogan and Spotify was beginning to slow down, with the controversial podcast host issuing an apology through Instagram, followed by the streaming platform instituting new “content advisory” measures around episodes that touched on COVID-19. But over the weekend, a video of Rogan using the n-word in many episodes of his podcast circulated across social media, prompting new responses from both podcaster and his publisher.
The clip, which features roughly two dozen instances of Rogan using the n-word, prompted him to post a five-minute apology video on Instagram. “It’s all smushed together and it looks fucking horrible, even to me,” he said. Rogan claimed that he hasn’t used the word in several years, and that he’d only said it when discussing its various meanings, or uses in pieces of media like Pulp Fiction. “I never used it to be racist, because I’m not racist. But whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say, ‘I’m not racist,’ you fucked up. And I clearly have fucked up.”
Among those who publicly criticized Rogan’s language was Grammy-winning musician Indie.Arie, who had previously announced that, like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, she would be removing her music from Spotify. “I have decided to pull my music and podcast from Spotify. Neil Young opened a door that I must walk through,” she wrote on Instagram. “I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his COVID interviews…For me it’s also his language around race.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who initially voiced support for Rogan in since-deleted tweets, also rescinded his support. “I was not aware of his n-word use prior to my comments, but now I’ve become educated to his complete narrative,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Learning moment for me.”
The broad uproar over the video compilation led to further action from Spotify: Without advance notice, 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience were quietly removed from Spotify, none of which seemed to have anything to do with the COVID-19 misinformation…