I guess no one’s gonna be shocked that I didn’t like this special. The only person in the world I would watch Joe Rogan for is my brother who texted me, “Joe Rogan Triggered is perhaps the funniest thing I’ve seen since 2011” which is ironic because after watching it, I don’t think Joe Rogan has gone outside since 2011! Lots of stuff has happened since then Joe! So much stuff! !
Joe Rogan is like if a beer gained sentience and could love but also refused to understand gender. Some people might think it’s ironic to write a blog post about a special I didn’t like called “Triggered.” That’s probably why he named it that, because he thought it was a clever step ahead of online criticism. (I can tell he thinks he’s very clever!! Always a good sign for a comic!!) But if that’s the case, that pretty much encapsulates what was tiresome and boring about this special.
First of all, if that is the case (which I definitely believe it is) he’s misusing the word- it doesn’t mean you don’t like something or you were angry, it means there is a stimulus that aggravates a pre-existing set of conditions, social or physical, that you have. I wasn’t triggered by this special. I didn’t like this special. The fact that he preemptively uses the word incorrectly to anticipate other people’s problem with it- is exactly who he is onstage the majority of the time.
He literally tries to argue that he’s not sexist (spoiler alert, he definitely is!!) by saying his favorite people are women. In a bit where he keeps repeating over and over “Women can’t do strong physical labor jobs, they just can’t” he says, “and I know some of you are thinking that’s sexist. Well it isn’t. I can’t be sexist because my favorite people are women. My wife and my two daughters, those are my favorite people in the world. But I could beat the shit out of them.” The joke there about beating his family doesn’t bother me, but the notion that he can’t be sexist because he loves some/three women is false premise/he doesn’t understand what sexism is. It’s pretty clear he thinks it just means you hate all women. He goes on to say a bunch of other wrong things about sex and gender (I’m saying wrong because there’s just objective markers we have to acknowledge outside of opinion which is YES everyone’s OWN).
All his stuff about gender was very wrong, but it’s also probably not his wheelhouse, so we’re not allowed to judge him on that, right? (Isn’t it interesting how women always have to make room in their perspectives for men’s emotional exceptionalism but that is somehow never reciprocal or returned? Lol, just a fun observation from my 28 years on this Earth!) He did have interesting ideas, but then he drives them to a tired backwards point. He feels like the smartest dumb person that exists. He’s at the exact edge between enlightenment & stupidity and he keeps trying to make a bridge with his words to get to the other side but instead his words are vines keeping him where he is. Not that not understanding trans identity is being stupid, but I think being so assured of yourself when you have the knowledge that so much is unknown (which he reiterates again and again in reference to OTHER’S beliefs) is stupid.
He likens his ‘manhood’ (which first of all, gross, I haven’t use someone use that word in sincerity since some twenty year olds playing teenagers in She’s All That made a bet about their virginities but ok Joe) to a “tower of marbles” and living with his wife and two daughters as “chipping away at it” and goes on to clarify that each action they do is like taking two marbles, which “isn’t enough to balk at, but then you don’t have any left.” He then ties it all together by saying, “You find a man who could live with the Kardashians for all those years and not come out a chick.” So he is very clearly laying out his belief that being transgender is what happens because you’re around too many women. (I say very clearly because I know there’s SOMEONE in the universe who’s going to dig their heels in the sand and say, “he doesn’t believe that, it’s a joke!!!” There’s no joke here- just a misinformed belief about identity and gender).
There were two lines I liked specifically: “You’re in a box with rapists and murderers and the worst they can do to you is leave you alone” that’s Joe talking about solitary confinement, which is a really interesting perspective, and at one point he said, “I look like a thumb with two other thumbs” and that was funny to me.
After talking to my brother I have a slightly different perspective which is: don’t condemn the special for what it’s not, or write it off as unhelpful to all because it is unhelpful to me, but I do still think that most of the jokes are predicated on an idea that is inherently harmful to some populations and it wasn’t funny enough to outbalance that for me. Whereas in say, Dave Chappelle’s special (the first in that run he just put out on Netflix) where he clearly has similar feelings, it was. Mostly I just wished the men in all our lives listened to us and saw our nuance the same way they see their own and expect us to see their own.
But also, fuck Joe Rogan!!! Which I am allowed to say and feel !!!
Look, after talking about this with a couple of people, Joe Rogan seems to be the hill many men are willing to die on. So many men connect with him because he’s both masculine AND intellectual in a way they haven’t seen/experienced before and that is new to them and it makes them feel protective of him (sometimes because they assume that’s what people have issue with because that’s what’s new to them). BUT this is why gender norms are harmful for fucking everyone and not just a “women’s issue” (kill me) because there exist men who are both those things who also aren’t sexist and transphobic and whatever else he is under that button down, there just aren’t nuanced portrayals of masculinity in culture for them to see it.
Also Jesus Christ, if another man tries to show me Joe Rogan’s ‘light’ and ask me continuous questions trying to get me to acknowledge that’s SOME parts are good, not ALL of the special is bad-yeah he is KIND of sexist but SOME of these thoughts are interesting and why don’t you care about THAT-because I fucking don’t. I don’t need to make allowances for people I don’t think are funny, and also harmful. Is he the worst comic working? Not by a long shot. Does that mean I like him? No. Do I owe him anything like respect? No. If he’s your fucking hero, you talk about him. I don’t need to protect him from anything, especially my opinion, especially when his whole set is attacking other people who are different from him, who he doesn’t understand.
Fin. Thank you Joe Rogan for ruining this night, but also for triggering (!!!!!!!!!!! see what I did there) an interesting conversation with my brother. 1 out of 5 weed dolphins, wouldn’t masturbate again.