Joe Rogan is in the news these days. This is a development that leaves me feeling so utterly out of it, I feel like taking up knitting, mainly because I only recently learned who Joe Rogan is. I didn’t watch the show he hosted (“Fear Factor”), because it sounded boring and ridiculous, and I don’t pay attention to mixed martial arts, his other big claim to fame, and so when you tell me this guy has millions of listeners to his podcast, I think: Huh. OK.
While I don’t doubt the people who claim he’s racist and sexist, podcasts can be cherrypicked and words taken out of context, so I thought I might check him out and see for myself. (I retain my Spotify subscription. For now.)
I should tell you my prejudices about podcasts up front: I think most of them are too long. It kills me that so many pods are produced by people who have undeniable assets but no radio experience, and make shows where the opening small talk between hosts takes 15 minutes. I’m glad people get along, there’s nothing wrong with showing your on-air chemistry, but holy shitballs start the damn show already. And learn how to edit, to take out the irrelevant guest tangent. And most of all, stop assuming people have nothing else to do but listen to you.
Granted, everyone listens differently. And maybe I’m too old to understand the appeal of this or that host chatting with his/her co-host like you are the third person at the table, or maybe the small talk isn’t for me, but I still firmly believe Podcast Bloat is a thing, and I far prefer pods that can get in and out of my ears in either 30 or no more than 60 minutes.
All this by way of noting that two hours is a short Joe Rogan podcast. Two and a half seems to be standard, and some go far, far longer. Jordan Peterson, the Canadian weirdo, talks to Rogan for FOUR! HOURS! (And 13 minutes.) People used to say, “You can’t judge Rush Limbaugh by some single thing he said. You have to listen for a month, then decide if he’s an asshole bigot.” Sorry, pals, I ain’t got time to dedicate a month of the only life I have to divining the essence of Rush Limbaugh, and ditto Rogan. But I did cue up half a dozen of his pods this week, just to see how or if they grabbed me.
Readers? They did not.
Rogan is, as his fans say, undeniably curious on a wide variety of issues (concentrating on bro-y stuff like fitness, stand-up comedy, showbiz and the like), so I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, he employs the Larry King Tabula Rasa strategy of interviewing, which is to say, he doesn’t seem to really prepare for anything. People say stupid shit and it’s not challenged. Rogan says stupid shit and it’s even less challenged; one trainer advocated a particular move that goes directly against every rule about how to treat your knees, and while Rogan noted the contradiction, he didn’t ask the why question.
In other words, while Rogan has the foundation of being a decent journalist (curiosity), he lacks the discipline to know how to craft it in service of others. Not that he won’t chime in when he feels like it. When one guest mentioned omicron, he said, “Oh, yeah, the cold.” And in the exchange that followed, he insisted omicron was no more serious than that, and the only people dying of it were basically fucked to begin with anyway, so. The “no big loss” was left unspoken, but hung in the air.
I guess it’s easy to talk to someone for two hours, especially if you’re on drugs – Rogan is said to be a big fan of those – but far harder to do it responsibly. There’s a clip of Rogan talking to a Holocaust denier that will curl your hair. He just sits there and nods.
So. Other big news of the moment: The Canadian Truckers 4 Freedumb have landed close to home. The privately owned Ambassador Bridge has been closed most of the day, with most of the action on the Canadian side. I was down there today for lunch and didn’t see much – a few trucks pulled over on the freeway with a state police officer talking to one, that sort of thing. But it’s big news, I guess. I’ll keep you posted if a shooting war breaks out.