These wealthy white idiots have some unsolicited thoughts on who can call themselves "Black.”
If you accept the premise that the so-called “intellectual dark web” is anything more than a loose conglomeration of superficially slick grifters peddling warmed-over contrarian takes, then there’s a good chance you’re the sort of person who was very excited at the prospect of former sitcom cast-member Joe Rogan and bovine appreciator Jordan Peterson sitting down for an extended chit-chat on the former’s medically unsound-yet-wildly popular podcast.
And boy did they chit-chat. Over the course of more than four hours, the Fester/Lurch-esque duo played the hits, covering everything from climate change (“there’s no such thing as ‘climate’”), to theology (“in many ways, the first book was the bible”), to gauging which Black people are allowed to actually call themselves “Black” (“unless you are talking to someone who is like 100% African from the darkest place where they are not wearing any clothes all day”). If you’re (understandably) a bit uncomfortable with two extremely wealthy white guys rattling off criteria for Black self-identification, don’t worry; as Rogan made sure to point out, it’s fine because,“well I'm Italian.” Whew! Well, in that case!
By now, if you’re not cringing yourself into an infinitely small, infinitely dense singularity of secondhand embarrassment, well, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am. And while this was far from Rogan and Peterson’s first meeting of the mega-minds, their latest is a perfect encapsulation of what passes for super-duper-serious discourse within this corner of the perpetually aggrieved, conspiracy addled, and increasingly mainstream right wing. Rogan and Peterson’s burlesque is perfectly calibrated to appeal to people who want to revel in taboos not because they’re interested in unpacking and exploring the issues therein, but because obtuse contrarianism is an end unto itself. It doesn’t matter what subject being is discussed (that they’re all almost exclusively things which neither Rogan nor Peterson are actual experts on is equally beside the point); the appeal to their millions upon millions of fans is a combination of sophomoric glee that comes with being slightly naughty (in this case: dabbling in racism, vaccine denialism, climate change denialism, etc.) while simultaneously feeling intellectually superior to anyone who rightly calls this diet-academica-lite nonsense what it is.
Ultimately, both Rogan and Peterson remain hugely influential figures in their nebulous, but undeniably potent circles — ones which have been monetized, expanded, and capitalized upon with little regard for the sincere damage and sheer idiocy inherent therein. That bodes pretty ill for the immediate future, in which they and their millions of their listeners will likely hide behind the excuse of “just askin’ questions” in order to justify an entire enterprise built on nothing but debunked pseudoscience and ego.