Dwayne Johnson Seems to Reconsider His Support for Joe Rogan amid N-Word Backlash: 'I Was Not Aware'

Joe Rogan apologized in light of resurfaced clips of him saying the slur on his podcast, admitting "it's not my word to use"

dwayne johnson and joe rogan
Photo: George Pimentel/Getty Images; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dwayne Johnson appears to be walking back his support for Joe Rogan.

Rogan — the 54-year-old former host of Fear Factor — came under fire last month over controversial claims about the pandemic that he was sharing on his Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, which reaches millions of listeners. To protest Spotify giving him a platform to spread misinformation, artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell asked to have their music taken down from the streaming service.

In response, Spotify decided to include disclaimers on podcast episodes discussing COVID-19. Rogan also issued an apology video on social media Jan. 30, promising to make more of an effort to "balance out" the opinions on his show.

Johnson applauded Rogan's 10-minute apology video at the time, writing in the comment section: "Great stuff here brother. Perfectly articulated. Look forward to coming on one day and breaking out the tequila with you."

Days later, however, Rogan faced another separate controversy when singer India Arie shared clips of Rogan repeatedly using the N-word throughout many past episodes of his podcast. The resurfaced clips prompted Rogan to apologize again. Arie also requested to have her music taken off Spotify.

He called the videos "the most regretful and shameful thing I've ever had to talk about publicly" and said the clips Arie shared were made up of "out-of-context" moments from "12 years of conversations" on his show.

"I know that to most people there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that now. I haven't said it in years," he said.

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On Twitter Feb. 4, author and activist Don Winslow called out Johnson, 49, for using his platform to "defend" Rogan, especially given the past use of the racist slur. He asked the movie star, "Have you actually listened to this man's many racist statements about Black people?"

Johnson then replied to Winslow. "Thank you so much for this. I hear you as well as everyone here 100%. I was not aware of his N word use prior to my comments, but now I've become educated to his complete narrative. Learning moment for me. Mahalo, brother and have a great & productive weekend. DJ."

In his video, Rogan acknowledged that he did say the word in years past, claiming he only used it when it "came up in conversation," pointing to past instances such as chatting about how comedians had used the word, or how Quentin Tarantino used the N-word "repeatedly" in Pulp Fiction.

Joe Rogan Apologizes for Using N-Word in Past Podcasts
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty

"Instead of 'saying the N-word,' I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context people would understand what I was doing," he said. He admitted "it's not my word to use."

"I never used it to be racist, because I'm not racist. But whenever you're in a situation where you have to say, 'I'm not racist,' you've f----- up, and I clearly have f----- up," Rogan added. "There's nothing I can do to take that back. I wish I could, obviously, that's not possible."

Offering his "sincere and humble apologies," Rogan noted he "wished there was more I could say, but all of this is just me talking from the bottom of my heart."

"It makes me sick watching that video, but hopefully, at least some of you will accept this and understand where I'm coming from," he added.

According to Variety, Spotify removed 70 episodes of Rogan's podcast (recorded between 2009 and 2018) from their platform on Friday. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rogan signed a multi-year deal in 2020 with Spotify to move his podcast to the service, reportedly with a sum of more than $100 million at the time.

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