After a compilation video went viral online of the Spotify podcast host saying a racial slur about two dozen times, Joe Rogan has issued an apology via Instagram. Grammy-winning musician India Arie posted the video as reasoning as to why she is removing her music from the service, following in the footsteps of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Arie’s compilation video featured several clips of The Joe Rogan Experience in which Rogan said the N-word on the podcast. “He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,” Arie said on Instagram. “Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand. I have always stood there.”
In the five-minute apology video, Rogan called the compilation the “most regretful and shameful thing” he’s had to address publicly. He described the video as “clips taken out of context” over the 12 years of The Joe Rogan Experience. “It looks fucking horrible, even to me,” admitted Rogan, “I thought that as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.” He described the complexities of the word and its use in the English language and explains that he now understands, “it’s not [his] word to use.” However, with the understanding of the complexities of a racial slur, it should come with an understanding of not repeating it. “Whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist,’ you fucked up,” stated Rogan.
He also apologized for another story he told on the podcast that went viral, where he was in an all-Black neighborhood in Philadelphia on his way to see the movie Planet of the Apes. He joked that it felt like he was in Africa, in his words to “make the story entertaining” by describing the neighborhood, “it’s like we’re in Planet of the Apes.” He again admitted to how “bad” the story made him sound and restated that it was not a racist story to him. However, at the end of the day, it’s not up to him to decide how other people feel about the language he uses. “It looks terrible even in context,” repeated Rogan, but even if he adds “context” to the larger conversation that was had, it doesn’t take away from the impact racist language like this perpetuates.
Rogan has recently come under fire from musicians and medical officials for “spreading COVID-19 misinformation.” Spotify stood by Joe Rogan but added content-warning labels to podcasts with sensitive topics like a two-year-long global pandemic. According to Deadline, roughly 70 episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience have been removed from Spotify, some of the removed episodes included controversial guests like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos. In a letter sent to staff obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Rogan was the one who chose to remove the eps. He was all for Rogan removing the episodes, but he believes “canceling voices is a slippery slope.” A complete list of JRE episodes that are no longer on Spotify can be found at the website JRE Missing. Vulture has reached out to Spotify for comment on the situation.
This post has been updated throughout.