The Joe Rogan Experience
When One Becomes Accountable to Money in America
Recently, during one of his podcasts Joe Rogan's statement to the question whether or not healthy youths should receive the CoViD 19 vaccine became the source of public outrage, and depending on what side of the political isle one stands on, it became canon fodder, used to attack either of the two partisan positions that have declared war against each other over a year ago on the battlegrounds of CoViD factualness. Needless to say, the entire subject is highly volatile.
If you don't normally catch the Joe Rogan Experience podcast or missed the episode where he made the controversial statement, I'll save you the time and inform you that his response to that question, as a non-medically trained professional in infectious diseases, was a confident and resounding "NO".
This isn't going to be an indictment of Joe Rogan and his beliefs or statements that he makes on his podcast. I actually like Joe Rogan and believe as far as infotainment goes, he is as 'fair and balanced' as they come. I think that is why he's wildly successful and deserving of the $100MIL Spotify contract for his podcast. Rather I will try to shed light on the social paradigm of why any comments made by highly visible public figures make for such public turmoil, thus resulting in the member reneging or doing some form of damage control to explain their previous comments or actions.
Joe Rogan's comments are not the real issue here. The bigger social issue here is the accountability to money one has when they become a 'big-time' public figure and how they are now seen as moral entrepreneurs by those that follow them as well as by those waiting to criticize them. Rogan's statements are a good, and just the latest, example of that accountability and public projected responsibility. The fact that the public expects Rogan to have the responsibility to come back out and make some sort of explanation or apology really reveals two things: (1) The public likes to be entertained over informed (considering entertainers as purveyors of facts), and (2) entertainers have so much public respect and trust their words are taken as gospel. The latter is a stark contrast to the public's disbelief in the factual information that actually comes from the real experts and trained professionals, as well as the government.
This all arises because every aspect of life is commercialized which results in everything becoming a commodity with a monetary value attached to it. Information is now a commodity just like any other consumable item such as food, clothing, and automobiles. Information is now delivered to the public to consume and capitalize off the emotional irritation created, not to truthfully inform the public so society improves. The more money said commodity generates the more protection that commodity receives from the free market, and the more accountable those that are part of the money making process become to the commodity and the money associated with it.
The following will be an analysis of the United States and how information is wrapped in entertainment and how that commodity and those that peddle it are accountable (knowingly or unknowingly/ willingly or unwillingly) to money not humanity. This is not an affliction that solely effects the American people; however, in the sense of "America First" and through all the exceptionalism boasted of in the United States, it's prudent to address what's going on at home rather than worry about other countries around the world. We need not look to criticize others or throw stones especially when our home is made entirely of windows. To the "love it or leave it" crowd this isn't hate speech aimed at the 'American Way' but rather an attempt to raise awareness and understanding of the social complexities and struggle that exists between the freedom of speech and the free market of Capitalism.
Entertaining an audience has been around just as long as the human race. It's the basic stimulus that humans use to inform one another. The more captivating a person is, the more likely the information they are presenting will be retained and disseminated. When human emotions are raised via entertainment the subject matter ingrains itself more deeply in the brain causing the person to believe in the informant and information more vehemently, allowing them to then consider the information knowledge. The fact that entertainment is such a powerful method to spread information and create knowledge in society makes it both an advantageous and dangerous tool. American poet, Robert Penn Warren, wrote in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All The Kings Men:
The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him.
Corporate America understands this relationship that information has with entertainment for humans very well and uses it to capitalize from, thus resulting in the non-stop use of public figures for entertainment, advertisement and social bombardment of information that is now part of the American landscape - "Entertainment sells!". Joe Rogan is just one of the many famous public figures used for this purpose.
Joe Rogan has been entertaining America as a comedian, television show host, fight commentator, and now social media infotainment icon. The Joe Rogan Experience topped the Edison Research Top 50 U.S. Podcasts in 2020 list with over 190 million downloads per month. With three podcast per week, making twelve a month, that translates into 16 million subscribers or about five percent of the U.S. population. To put that into some sort of perspective, compared to the average UFC Pay-Per-View audience of one to two-million per event, Rogan overshadows the business entity he commentates for by over 10 times the amount of viewers; that's repetitive and consistent monthly, unlike UFC. The following Rogan has amassed with his rugged, hunter, combat fitness, drug proponent, and all around macho-male American image earned him $100 million from Spotify in May of 2020. Just like Andre Agassi swung the phrase, "Image is everything" for Canon in the 90s Spotify realized that with Joe, and rewarded him with a huge 'payday' but that also put him on a leash that wasn't there before. Money is the hand that holds that leash and I'll get more in depth on that in a moment.
However, Rogan is more than just that image, he also presents to the listeners a balance of beliefs and information by booking on his podcast a wide diversity of guests from all walks of life, professions, politicians, cultures, and organizations. He'll interview the likes of Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, then the next podcast will be with a relatively unknown but highly accomplished scientist or doctor. Rogan will also interview as well as agree with other social media influencers that derive from both sides of the political isle and spectrum; he actual walks the walk of the Fox News' talk of being "fair and balanced". In the capacity of his his podcast, he really represents and speaks to all of the American population - this is powerful entertainment - this power commands high amounts of money in revenue and accountability to that money. Each episode of The Joe Rogan Experience brings in about $1 million. This also makes Rogan highly visible in the public eye, where the pedestal he is on, not only lifts him up in society but also publicly imprisons him.
Money is the matrix by which Americans identify success and achievement. The more money one has the more successful they are considered to be. The people, institutions, and organizations that have large sums of money are so respected by the public that they are considered to be the source of facts and the foundations or pillars of society. The information that comes from these entities will trump the professionals and experts damn near every time. The ability of some to accrue massive amounts of money is misidentified by the public as also possessing vast amounts of knowledge and unduly receiving the public's respect and admiration. This disparity exists because factual information many times has no capital value. The public addresses made by Dr. Fauci regarding the scientific data and recommendations for the public regarding CoViD 19 have very little corporate backing and monetary value compared to the likes of famous infotainers such as Joe Rogan or the many others like him.
In the name of Capitalism it is only naturally then to be bombarded by the information wrapped in Entertainment that sells and creates a profit whether it is the truth and factual or not. Receptiveness creates belief, and belief creates knowledge again, whether it is truth or factual.
Joe Rogan due to his successful podcast has now found himself in the conundrum of American society where the economy drives all, that includes our government, and the money that is created is the real resource that is to be protected at all costs and by any means necessary. President Joe Biden recently gave his first address to the Congress which drew and audience of just over twenty-six million viewers of which over sixteen-million were over fifty-five, which means Joe Rogan draws more young and middle aged Americans to one of his podcasts than an important message from our country's executive leader does. This is an example of how dangerous information wrapped in entertainment can be if taken as fact. This is what led to the public outcries claiming Joe Rogan to be irresponsible at best and some ignorant or insensitive at worst.
Joe's podcast messages are so powerful and reach such a large section of the population that the U.S. government had to officially have the experts and professionals make public statements refuting Rogan's remarks made on his podcast. However, going back to the fact Joe has a huge population of Americans identifying not only with his image but his ability to accrue wealth, he is revered as a purveyor of great knowledge and anything he says carries a lot of weight in the public opinion, resulting in many to take his messages very seriously, even if it's socially irresponsible in the bigger picture. Many media personalities/ outlets, and social media influencers, with opposing views regarding CoViD 19 vaccines, felt it necessary to refute Rogan's comments, resulting in the high level of publicity; controversy sells. It's this selling point and monetary value of the respectively opposing sources of information that drive these entities even further to distribute their information and ultimately apologize for it, if in the end it's considered to be threatening the money making process behind it.
Rogan's statement is a perfect example of how information gained from entertainment and garnered as knowledge is both a benefit and a danger to society. It is also a perfect example that demonstrates the typical social and political 'firestorms' that are created when famous people speak out on any topic; thus resulting in the expectation of a follow-up explanation or apology. Again, this could be any famous public figure, I'm just using Rogan as it is the latest such example and it also is centered around the very tenuous topic of CoViD 19 and all the political and social contradictions surrounding this pandemic that now has stretched over a year in duration.
Rogan's statements further exemplify another phenomenon in society that exists within a population that is divided by highly polarized philosophical beliefs. The phrase "Just shut up and entertain" is frequently used and heard from the right or left wing, just depending on the information being disseminated by an entertainer and who's listening. Progressivism is commercially more successful than conservativism; this leads the right or conservative leaning groups to believe they are being discriminated against publicly by the advertisements and entertainment provided by corporate America. In reality it's the accountability to what makes more money that drives this disparity; not a refute of conservative beliefs by corporations. They only refute what doesn't make money. Progress drives inventions and economies where as the term conservation means to not change or invent anything new, thus resulting in no economic expansion. This societal struggle between the right and left of politics in the economy leads to many entertainers to be caught in the middle of this and make Openly Oppositional Public Statements (OOPS) that are not necessarily factual or meant to be taken seriously by the public.
Collectively the American public is a fickle bunch, on the one hand every word, action, and advertisement made by the wealthy and privileged class is clung to, as if they were coming from gods, while also simultaneously reserving the right to crucify any one of those public idols the minute something socially, culturally or economically disagreeable comes from their lofty throws. With America's current social climate being extremely polarized politically, this isn't hard to accomplish, nor has it become a rare occurrence due to the amount of information made readily available as commodities that are perfectly packaged and directly advertised to specifically targeted audiences, with the sole intentions, by the free market, of provoking an emotional rise from the selected group. These manipulations of public emotion result in clicks, likes, shares and basically become advertisement that creates a stream if not a river of revenue.
The free market that makes up the American economy is greatly protected politically to have free reign over the public; however, the market is not one homogenous system of political, cultural, and social beliefs; but rather it's a direct representation of the diversity that makes up America and as such, institutions throughout the market will align differently along those political, cultural, and social lines, again with most favoring a more progressive set of ideals, as this is where the highest amount of commerce and exchange of money takes place, due to the basic fact progress means economical expansion and conservativism results in economic stagnation. This paradigm of the U.S. economic system has effectively turned people from citizens into consumers that believe the monetary system is the real measure of the country's success and it's now the default government; which is believed to be the only thing worthy of public protection through taxation; executed by the U.S. Military abroad, and the Police at home.
Who is to blame in America for the great outrage that is created when entertainers say something disagreeable publicly?
The Right-wing hates what the left says and the Left-wing hates what the right says and each blame the other for the social maladies that America is experiencing. However, it is failed to be observed and realized that the wings are attached to the same bird. When a bird flies the wings never operate independently or in opposition to one another but rather they work together in sync simultaneously and move the bird in it's intended direction. The intended direction in this case is national prosperity and due to the fact that Americans in the majority (left and right wings) identify the prosperity of the nation by purely monetary measures, the resulting direction of the public bird's flight is towards achievement that is driven by money. The left and right wings of society will continually complain that their First Amendment rights are being infringed upon or being subjected to what is now being labelled as "Cancel Culture" by the opposing side and the conflicting rhetoric or public disgust that comes respectively from what is said by a progressives or conservative infotainer. However, money "talks" here and its speech is what is protected above all else and that comes at the expense of what are perceived to be freedom of speech rights by individuals in society.
Bob Dylan sings in his song It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) "Money doesn't talk it swears", and America has sworn to protect money's right to do so as it has been collectively identified as the most important of attainments in society.
The things that are publicly said by entertainers are sanctioned by those that make money from the biased ideas and images those entertainers represent and subsequently those same entertainers are forced to make public explanations and apologies or be ridiculed by a divided public if those that profit off their image and advertisement feel what has been said might damage those profits or potential for future profits.
One political side over the other isn't to blame, nor is one group of people in society that is opposed by another the guilty parties of the restrictions on what can be said publicly without receiving outrage or being recanted. The United States government isn't sending unidentified tactically dressed police forces in unmarked vehicles to the locations of these entertainers and demanding they say socially agreeable and responsible things nor are they forcing them to take back and apologize for an OOPS; or face imprisonment. That would be an outright assault on the First Amendment. No, The economic system that the entirety of the American population has socially agreed upon is the force that is behind what is said and advertised by entertainers and ultimately apologized for or taken back when public outrage is significant enough that the economic system or the money behind the entertainer feels commercially threatened by the statements.
"We the people" the American population as a whole are to blame for what looks like an infringement on peoples' rights of freedom of speech. The left and right equally are guilty for the worship of money and allowing society to be taught and conditioned that financial gain is the only thing of importance. Due to this collective belief of the nation it has resulted in information through entertainment to become a highly consumable commodity that has created vast amounts of opportunity for massive profits to be made. Joe Rogan receiving the $100 million payout from Spotify is just one example of this. Many more exist and they are strategically set up to arm either the progressive or conservative armies with infotainment that results in huge amounts of public conflict, and nothing generates revenue like conflict. Armed Combat (war) is the ultimate in conflict and it is grossly profitable for national economies involved; as long as they don't take place on one's home turf.
Ultimately what has been witnessed publicly through the Joe Rogan Experience is the socioeconomic structure that exists in the United States that makes all public information accountable to the economy and the money it creates. The actual emotions and outrage created in the public by an entertainer's statements and actions, may be the gauge used by corporate America in deciding what can be said publicly or subsequently what needs to be apologized for or restricted against being said completely; however, they are not considered on a humanities level and how they actual impact peoples feelings or equity in society. Further more the United States government in both political wings have have turned over its duties of regulating what is allowed and illegal per The Constitution, to corporate America and the economic powers that be, thus resulting in what we are now witnessing in the profit from information and the restriction of information when it threatens profits.
When information is being publicly disseminated through entertainment and advertisements it should never be taken seriously or ultimately used as the source for people to accumulate factual knowledge; however, with Corporate America now the ipso facto government, one's public statements and actions are really no longer accountable to The Constitution but rather to money which is the constitution of business, business doesn't care about feelings and only cares of ethics and morality if in doing so generates more money. This fact is what really holds people accountable publicly for what is said, especially entertainers. Joe Rogan's beliefs or any entertainer for that matter should not be the source for forming public knowledge nor should they have the financial power that they become dangerous to public information; however, since America has agreed money reigns supreme this will be the outcome every time an entertainer has an OOPS.
This essay is not intended to be a criticism of Joe Rogan, his comments, or whether he needs to apologize or take back what he said. It is merely an attempt to point out the bigger macro issue surrounding the public outrage that results when socially disagreeable things are said by entertainers, famous, or public figures in America.