S1: This is not a drill. Rihanna is pregnant. Hi, I’m Madison
S2: Malone Kircher and I’m Rachel Hampton and you’re listening to I think I’m I’m
S1: in case you missed it.
S2: Slate’s podcast about internet culture.
S1: Rachel, I’m just going to start off with with a warning. It is winter in New York City. It is radiator season in New York City, and despite my absolute best efforts, I cannot be held responsible for any noises my radiator may or may not make during the course of this episode.
S2: And you shan’t be held responsible because the other choice is for you to freeze, and I think that might count as like an ocean violation. I don’t really know what the rules are when all working from home.
S1: Oh, no, I’m willing to freeze my radiators are turned off. It’s they still make noise. It’s like there’s a man inside of the pipes with a hammer just going to get that crank, except that doesn’t sound as delightful as that.
S2: Are they also screaming? I love the little radiator screams
S1: the that that. Yeah.
S2: That sound. Call me Mariah Carey.
S1: Wow, the whistle tones Joe Ariana Grande found dead.
S2: All right, so today is not not the Schroeder debut, my musical talent or the lack thereof.
S1: We are we are talking about music and streaming platforms so we can make a transition here because today on the show, we’re getting into the public push to get Joe Rogan off a Spotify where that came from and and why platforms like Spotify are so hesitant to sever ties with their biggest names when their biggest names are caught out.
S2: But first, you know them, you love them. That’s right, it’s time for some high speed downloads. It’s been a while.
S1: It has. It has, indeed. We’ll be talking about the real news everybody cares about on the internet today, talking about it very quickly. Rihanna is having a baby.
S2: My girl is pregnant and also romance. Twitter is up in some big, beefy man arms. That’s right. They’re furious and they’re furious at a YouTuber who’s reading and critiquing the genre.
S1: You can’t use the phrase beefy man arms after we’ve pivoted away from Joe Rogan
S2: and can do whatever I want.
S1: What we’re saying is today we’ve got the three r’s for you. Rihanna romance and Rogan
S2: more hours after the break. And we’re back with high speed downloads. If you are not familiar, high speed downloads, there’s a segment where my husband and I have 60 seconds to explain everything you need to know about a meme, a topic for a moment on the internet. And if you don’t like listening to people talk really, really fast, maybe slow your podcast playback speed to like point seven five X. If you do point five X, we sound drunk.
S1: That’s fun, too.
S2: Yeah. Madison, you’re up first. What have you got for me?
S1: Rihanna is pregnant.
S2: Oh, my favorite topic. All right. You have 60 seconds on the clock. Three, two one go.
S1: OK. On Monday, photos of Rihanna sporting a baby bump were published. She was walking around town with A$AP Rocky, who appears to be the baby’s father. The two were wandering outside in Harlem, Rihanna wearing this like puffy pink coat that’s unzipped to reveal a bejewelled stomach. It is glamorous. I think these gemstones at one point like adorned a pope or Queen Elizabeth. Someone should check with Queen Elizabeth, but I got to ask you was 15 degrees in York City this weekend. So like lemurs, but fucking cold. This follows rumours from December that she was pregnant, which Rihanna denied she deemed a fan who asked about a baby shower, and she said, Stop. You ain’t come to the first 10 baby showers. All breed me every year. Damn it, lol. Joe breed me every year. Damn it lol. I said in that first message. This is not the first time pregnancy rumours about her swirled in 2019, she told Essence magazine. I’m a black woman, a comparable black woman who came from a black woman who came from a black woman. I’m going to give birth to a black woman, which made everyone think that she was literally going to give birth to a black woman imminently. This did not happen. Feels really like being up until like celebrities like I felt like I was pregnant. Or they can talk about the dream of being pregnant. This happened with Beyonce embryonic Nicki Minaj, you know, like, anytime anybody physically appears to have a stomach, it’s like, Oh, pregnancy, get on a celebrity’s uterus, get out of my uterus, get out of everyone’s your horse.
S2: Get out of everyone’s uterus. What a place to stop on.
S1: Not my finest performance.
S2: Well, to cap it all off, you have one sentence to perhaps redeem yourself just a little bit. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
S1: I do. And honestly, I’m not even going to have to cheat. It is truly one sentence. I am happy if Rihanna is happy. But I would be happier with a new album.
S2: Yes. Like, I love everything she has built for herself. Fenty Beauty the lipstick phenomenon. We love her. But also anti came out so long ago. I can’t keep playing. Kiss it better. I mean, I can, but I need more.
S1: We have not eaten well since, she said. I want you to stay hungry
S2: and bitch, we have.
S1: All right, Rachel, it is your turn. What do you got for us?
S2: Oh, I’ve got romance.
S1: Twitter Ooh. A place I avoid as a as a a standing policy.
S2: You know, I understand why. And I say this as somebody who loves romance, I do feel like even before I get started, I must do my romance bona fides because I do not want for people to come at me. I love romance. Romance comes through the pandemic. Beverly Jenkins is my idol. I’ve profiled romance novels before. Everything I’m saying is as a member of the community, don’t come into my DMs with some fucks shit. Now, do you think
S1: any of this is going to keep romance Landa from going from zero to pitchfork and three point five if they so choose?
S2: I mean, it’s either that or me just saying, I’m a black woman. If you come after me, you’re racist. But I prefer not to pull that one out unless absolutely have to. All right. Let’s actually get into that.
S1: It’s been so long. OK, you have 60 seconds on the clock to explain the latest romance Twitter drama. Three two
S2: one go. OK. Last week, YouTuber Jack Evans posted a really funny innocuously about how men and romance novels are always big. He said No one romance novels. This book is This man is so big. He is just so huge. You towers over me. All I can think about is how big is his arms so big? He is so big. This is so accurate. Every single man and romance novel is like six four and has big, meaty arms like Gaston. Anyway, after this very true tweet came out, the members Romanov Linda descended upon him. So many women, mostly white rates against him, feel like he was attacking their work. They were basically act like they’re being oppressed by this tweet. That, I must say, is accurate if you pick up any 10 romance novels off the romance shelf in Barnes and Noble. But of course, people feel like romance is looked down upon, which is true. It is like cold women, but it has historically been relegated to the realm of fluff and not serious when there’s actually let to be worth the rapid fire and sex and rape. But most importantly, it’s a billion dollar industry is not an oppressed class. Romance Glanbia, like most fandom spaces, have a tendency to get into a place where any sort of commentary that isn’t going brave is just like an outright attack on the lives of writers. And I must say, stop it. This is terrible. And he also said this in a follow up tweet that he’s enjoying a first foray into romance, so leave him alone.
S1: Yeah, that’s why I avoid that side of the internet, Rachel.
S2: Final sentence I realized that I didn’t actually describe any of the attacking tweets. So here’s one that’s very bad that actually comes from an account called Bad Romance Takes. So maybe this is simply satire, but it goes there should be conversations about how we describe bodies in romance. Male and female. But we don’t need the literature, bro, with two weeks of reading experience to tell us that I think when a literature bro reads for books and then goes stomping around the internet, pointing out everything wrong with romance around February, romance readers know what it is and where it came from. Don’t let this guy think he started a dialogue. Like every single February romance, landing gets all up in arms whenever anybody talks about romance because they like people and talk about romance around Valentine’s Day, and I’m just like my, my, my fellow romance readers.
S1: Shut up. An excellent final sentence. We’re going to reset our stopwatches and get ready to talk about that other set of beefy arms we mentioned at the top of the show. Joe Rogan.
S2: I’m so excited.
S1: After the break, we’ll be back to discuss the drama surrounding Mr. Beefy Arms, Spotify, Neil Young and why it’s so difficult or why it shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is for personalities and platforms to part ways
S2: more beefy arms. After the break,
S1: season three for a plastic
S3: bag, the bottom fell out was a piece of crap.
S2: If you want to support the great journalism slate does consider joining Slate Plus it means no ads on any Slate podcast just like this one. And you’ll also be supporting this show. I see why I would not be possible without you. All support and Slate Plus really helps keep the show going. You’ll also get bonus segments or episodes on some great shows like Slow Burn and Kiss and Mom and Dad are fighting. You’ll get unlimited reading on the slate website. You’ll never hit the paywall, and you’ll get access to every single article and advice column on Slate. To subscribe, go to Slate.com. I see why am I plus that? Slate.com? I see. Why am I plus? And we’re back with Joe Rogan, a name I hope to never utter on this podcast, and yet
S1: here we are. So this past week, musician Neil Young removed all of his music from Spotify because he decided that he could no longer support a platform that is promoting COVID misinformation. And he’s talking specifically about the Joe Rogan Experience hosted by. Oprah Winfrey, no, Joe Rogan
S2: don’t malign Oprah like that. Not even jokingly, the Joe Rogan Experience Briefly is a very long podcast where Rogan sits down with guests and has this kind of freewheeling conversations, heavy air quotes around conversations that are never fact checked and also never seem to end. They promote everything from ivermectin as a COVID cure to suspicions around vaccines for children, and that’s just scratching the surface of the last three months of the Joe Rogan Experience.
S1: He’s just a man asking questions, you know?
S2: Mm hmm.
S4: They removed you for not going along with whatever the tech narrative is, because tech clearly has a censorship agenda when it comes to COVID in terms of treatment, in terms of the the whether or not you are promoting what they would call vaccine hesitancy. They can ban you for that. They can ban you for their eyes.
S2: I just realize that I’ve never actually heard Joe Rogan’s voice, and I think doing this in my head, he was Alex Jones because that voice sounded so normal. I thought he’d be screaming,
S1: No, no, no, no. That’s not his style. Alex Jones a lot. A lot more shouting. The thing, though, is you probably have heard Joe Rogan voice. He’s a former standup comedian and more more relevant. He was the host of Fear Factor. Did you ever?
S2: Oh my god,
S4: I’m Joe Rogan. Welcome to Fear Factor. The stunts you’re about to see were designed and supervised,
S2: but just had a flashback. My family used to watch it and it always scared me because just I am visualizing like balls full of bugs and you’re locked
S1: into a box full of snakes kind of thing, you know for me. Yeah, the dude’s abro.
S2: I yeah, he is a bro. And maybe that’s why I keep confusing him with random other bro’s. Like, I thought he was Alex Jones. And then I also thought he was a dude who only eats me. But I think that’s a different man, right? That’s Jordan Peterson.
S1: Look, it’s just a category of men that Joe falls into, which is he loves being provocative and seems to not give a flying fig about spreading misinformation so long as he keeps raking in that Spotify cash while doing what seems like as little work as possible. I’m sure it involves some work, but you know, research takes time.
S2: It does. I mean, what I do, the least amount of work possible is Spotify was give me a lot of money. Yes, but that would result in me talking about Tumblr for hours on end.
S1: Not ivermectin at the beginning of the year. Some people who actually do quite a lot of research take a lot of pride in it. This group of two hundred and seventy scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against that misinformation Joe Rogan is spreading in his show.
S2: That letter from these two included 17 scientists inspired musician Neil Young to write his own, alerting Spotify that they could either have his music or Rogan’s podcast on the platform, but not both in Spotify made it abundantly clear that Rogan wasn’t going anywhere because they had sunk too much money into him, thus meaning that Younger moved his music.
S1: This inspired other musicians, including My Dear Sweet Perfect Joni Mitchell, to join in pledging to remove her music from the platform. If Spotify didn’t do anything, and most of her stuff is now gone, save for a few albums. I’m not quite sure why is that those are still there, probably some contract stuff that would involve research. I will say, thank God that case of you is on the practical magic soundtrack because otherwise, how would I sob once a week? That song really just instant water works for me. You know, just before our love got lost, you said I am as constant
S4: as a northern star, and I said constantly in the darkness, is that and
S2: if you want me, I’ll be in bar. You’ve never said a less surprising thing. I will say. I feel vindicated in the fact that I’ve kept forgetting to cancel my Apple Music subscription for two. Oh wow, two years I’ve just been paying Apple Music $5 a month and I’ve thought I need to cancel that. And now I’m like, Oh, sweet, sweet vindication.
S1: Yeah, because you know what? Tech platform is good?
S2: And I didn’t say it was good. Where did you hear me say that? You know what? Other tech platform isn’t good.
S1: Spotify and Spotify on Sunday released updated guidelines stating that they were going to add a content advisory to any podcast episode featuring COVID 19 discussions.
S2: Importantly, that does not mean they’ll remove misinformation from their platforms, just that it’ll tell you if any podcast is discussing COVID 19 discussions. So the. Theoretically, Joe Rogan’s podcast will have the same advisory as a podcast featuring Dr. Fauci, because that’s totally how you distinguish misinformation and you know who that helps Joe Rogan, who took to Instagram to discuss the controversy. And, of course, refute the claims that he spreads any misinformation because he’s, you know, he’s just asking questions and having the conversation.
S4: I do not know if they’re right. I don’t know because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and those conversations with them.
S2: Obviously, I feel we don’t have to say that this is dangerous, but we’re going to say it. This is dangerous, but kind of just asking questions. Mentality is usually just a cover for just allowing misinformation to breathe without fact checking it or for provocation, provocation sake. It just asking questions. Mentality is basically like this question has no real life impact. And that’s not how anything works. And unfortunately, and also predictably, Spotify has responses like Mad Week. It doesn’t really look like the current efforts a the platform Rogan are going to work because what Neil Young or Joni Mitchell might be missing here or not missing but their supporters are missing here is that Rogan has the power, not Spotify. They need him a lot more than he needs them.
S1: When Joe Rogan joined Spotify, he signed a deal for 100 million 100 million during the rise. Will Austin powers thing $100 million to bring his whole back catalog of shows and all new episodes of his show exclusively to Spotify, which converted a huge audience into Spotify subscribers, which is if you work for a subscription platform like that’s the golden goose, right? It’s like, who can we pay? That will translate to a loyal following, who will then use our platform for other things to like that that, you know, it makes people who work at subscription platforms very excited.
S2: Taking already established audiences and converting them into Spotify subscribers is basically the platform’s whole new direction. They’ve invested so much money into podcasting, specifically podcasting with big names attached, they signed a deal with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
S1: It is. I’ve been trying to think if there is any one artist who could really push Spotify to change by pulling their catalog and I mean names like Taylor Swift and Co. come to mind.
S2: That’s the thing about Neil Young, Joni Mitchell pulling their music, which is an incredible principle stand, and I commend them for it. But their music catalogs, which are very important and brilliant works of art, as Madison can attest by the fact that she cries to a song from practical magic once a week, they’re not really continuing to grow. There’s not new music coming in that will inspire listeners that keep coming back every month. But you know who does inspire listeners to come back every week?
S1: Joe Rogan It’s funny because Meghan and Harry inked a deal with Spotify in December of 2020 for $25 million, and the couple did release a statement voicing their concerns with the promotion of misinformation on Spotify. But they didn’t go so far as to, you know, send the check back, pull out completely.
S2: Yeah, I think that’s the only income they have right now.
S1: It is concerning that we are at a place where Joe Rogan seems to have a Spotify like by the financial throat and that they can’t or won’t do anything meaningful to fix this.
S2: But it’s also not really new, either. I feel like we’ve talked about de-platforming a fair amount, and it’s a really difficult thing to do when a platform depends so much on an individual. It’s really similar to how Twitter didn’t want to get rid of Trump until the very bitter end because they could, like feasibly look away and not take responsibility for any of his content because they were just a platform for Swedes. And let’s be honest. Having access to the president potentially tweeting out the nuclear codes was a great gift for Twitter.
S1: YouTube’s version of this, of course, was Alex Jones, whose show Infowars ran for years on their platform without any sort of regulation. If you never watched Infowars, I’m happy for you. Alex Jones is a person who has denied that the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook were real.
S2: Yes, he said, they’re paid actors and YouTube said, OK, here’s an ad
S1: you tube until 2018 said, We’re fine with that until a whole bunch of websites started removing Alex Jones. This content from their platforms like truly you would wake up every day and it would be like Pinterest is deplatformed. Alex Jones. But before that, YouTube really had no incentive to do anything. Because his show is driving money for them and like, who cares what he’s saying between the ads? I guess we’re saying here is it is costly and risky for these platforms to take a principled stance, which is why I think we can’t chicken out here, Rachel. So you and I must must take ours. De-platforming Joe Rogan from Spotify. Yes or no?
S2: I mean, morally, yes. Do I actually think it will do much? No, because the thing is, Rogan’s followers will follow him anywhere. There was this August 2021 Verge article that actually made the case that Rogan going exclusive to Spotify diminish his influence and his audience because people couldn’t access them without a subscription. Whereas before his show would also be on YouTube or other podcasting platforms. And so unless every single publishing platform decides its platform Rogan, getting him on Spotify won’t do much. And in fact, getting him off Spotify will only further activate his audience to follow him wherever he goes. That’s not a reason not to do it, but I think that if Spotify does do it, we can’t just sit here and be like, Yay, the problem is dealt with. Because it’s not
S1: I think that’s fair. I’m in the camp of do you platform the fuck out of him, deplatform the hell out of whoever is the him of the day, right? It is wildly effective if enough platforms do it. And the reason I think about it. I feel so strongly about it is this Joe Rogan audience, you’re totally right. They will follow him wherever he goes. But the group that I’m interested in protecting is somebody who is not a Rogan listener yet is not a Rogan fan yet, but might become one if he is on a mainstream platform that is serving up this content easily and for free alongside, like you said, a podcast that’s interviewing Dr. Fauci. Those are the people who, if we can avoid getting this content into their ears and in front of their eyes, that seems worth it to me.
S2: I agree with you, and I do hope that if Spotify does decide to deplatform him, that it would create that domino effect, but at the very least, they could stop promoting him as heavily as they do. I was scrolling through Twitter because I’m it’s my job working. I saw these people who were like ever since Joe Rogan has been on Spotify. I don’t even listen to podcasts, but Spotify knows that I’m under the age of 50 and I’m a man and all I’ve gotten served there. As for Joe Rogan’s podcast, so it’s not just like they’re hosting this content. They’re also actively pushing it into people’s feeds who don’t previously listen to it, and that’s fucked up. And I think that can stop and should stop. But can they can they actually get out of this $100 million deal? Do you actually think they will?
S1: I think they will if and only if they hit the same point that many a platform before Spotify has hit, where it becomes fiscally untenable for them to be in bed with Joe Rogan. There were a lot of headlines actually about how Spotify lost more than two billion billion with a B dollars in market value after Neil Young pulled his music, which that’s a big figure. But we do need to give it a little context because that sounds very dramatic on its face. But it’s not all that different from how much money Spotify had already been losing. The company has been kind of in, let’s say, a slump since 2002 began, though we should note that after Spotify published its new guidelines and Rogan posted his apology, Spotify stock went back up almost 14 points on Monday, so unfortunately it does seem like money does not care about morality.
S2: A huge, huge shocker. I mean, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great political statement for musicians to take their music off the platform. But I mean, unless it’s a powerhouse like Taylor Swift or Beyonce or one of the people who has an exclusive Spotify contract, no one really has a chance at making the change of de-platforming. Joe Rogan.
S1: Rachel. I think I cracked it. I think I know how we can convince Spotify to deplatform Joe Rogan.
S1: We’re going to pull out absolutely free podcast off their platform.
S2: Yes, definitely. That will definitely affect their bottom line so much. We have that level of influence.
S1: There are no perfect answers here. I guess the best we can hope for is
S2: the tech industry being more regulated. Hmm. There. Good, all right, that is to show you back in your feed on Saturday, so please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, maybe send us some photos of your big, beefy arms over on. I see why my scorecard on Twitter. You can also send us photos of your big, beefy arms if I see, why am I at Slate.com?
S1: I see Why Am I is produced by Daniel Schroeder, our supervising producer is Derek John. We are edited by Forrest Wickman and Allegra Frank. Amber Smith is senior manager of podcast Audience Development. And Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcast. See you online
S2: or in the Gym. And you get a new phone case.
S1: Did it square?
S2: It’s nice.
S1: Thank you. I bought it off an Instagram ad. It’s a piece of shit. Look.