I do try to keep my attention turned away from the current giants of white men mediocrity who have built empires talking gibberished nonsense into the moral vacuum of social media. Those well-compensated yet still aggrieved guys bearing a bone to pick with the de-masculinized, nonbinary, darkening direction modern society seems to be headed in. The Snake Oil Salesmen 2.0.
But spend enough time on the internetz, it’s hard not to occasionally have them scurry past your screen, leaving digital droppings in unguarded corners of your consciousness. I’m sorry. What did he just say? No, but really. *click* Damn! Fell for it again.
Jordan Peterson, now posturing on the right-wing Daily Wire website, sitting in various plush chairs, talking just off-camera to somebody in the room about monsters and dragons when he’s not questioning the authenticity of the female orgasm with Ben Shapiro. I’ve seen the quotes. Heard a Kermit the Frog overdub. Still cannot believe the conversation to be an actual thing.
Two years or so recovered from an apparent debilitating drug addiction (the ‘dragon’ I guess, in the proper Petersonese), the good doctor seems suitably unhumbled by what many others would consider a life-altering experience. As puffed-out toxic and malignantly vitriolic as ever Peterson’s exactly how you would imagine Rex Murphy if he swallowed a Jim Morrison-sized cocktail of drugs and alcohol and then proclaimed: I Am The Lizard King! Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Clean up your room. Lobsters rule! This is what qualifies as a public intellectual these days. At least, on the public commons that is the internet.
Joe Rogan comes at the con from an opposite angle. The unassuming schlub next door, working out with the weights in his garage and just asking questions. Personally, he never really delves into the issue at hand, any issue. He only skims the headlines in the articles that filter into his Facebook feed. Hey! Don’t shoot the messenger. He’s just asking the question.
Late last month, Rogan popped up onto my radar after a guy in Langley B.C. shot and killed a couple homeless people, wounded two others before getting himself killed by the RCMP. This occurred a few days after, on his podcast, Joe Rogan wondered why you couldn’t just shoot homeless people. He was only asking the question, of course.
While bemoaning the scourge of homelessness in L.A., the unclean cluttering public space, setting up camp along very desirable urban hotspots below and around freeway underpasses, Rogan is surprised when his cigar-smoking (a troll prop to be sure) co-host, Tom Segura, informs him that if you tried to remove the belongings, you’d be the one being charged. Private property, you see.
Rogan: (incredulously) The homeless person’s property is protected?!
Segura: (smugly) Absolutely.
Rogan: (skeptically) Huh…
Segura: (feeding the beast): If you were to try and go and move that or take that—
Rogan: (liking where this is going): You’d be arrested?!
Segura: (I rest my case, your honour!): Yeah… Yeah.
Rogan: (such outrage cannot stand) Hilarious.
Segura: (I’m just quoting the law, my man) Mmhmm.
Rogan: (elementary my dear Watson) They wouldn’t arrest you if you shot somebody. Maybe you should just go shoot the homeless people.
Segura: (Hey Abbott!!) I like your ideas.
It’s 12 year-old boy talk, trying to shock their parents. Except that they’re grown-ass men, simply stirring up shit against an already marginalized segment of society for shits and giggles not to mention a boatload of cash in yet another round of the filthy rich mock and dehumanize their filthy inferiors for filthy lucre. Easy, easy money in these days of contemptuous antipathy.
‘It’s just a joke’, they’ll claim. ‘We were only joking. Just asking questions.’ Providing punchlines and answers devoid of any comedy or humanity. Nothing other than lucrative clickbait.
That’s what unites such otherwise disparate media personalities like Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan, aside from a petulant, mean-spirited, deplorable politics, that is. (Peterson’s rise to prominence, not at all coincidentally, I imagine, began with his first appearance on Rogan’s podcast in November 2016, just a couple months after his Bill C-16 ‘compelled speech’ YouTube video plucked the nasty professor from academic obscurity). Both men are carnival barkers. Gorilla! Gorilla! Gorilla! Step inside and see the gorilla!! Beckoning their paying customers to enter the big tent and witness the freakshow they’ve assessed the modern world to be. P.T. Barnumesque grifters.
For his part, Rogan, as a comedian and entertainer who just asks questions, has shielded himself from the prospect of descending into mere parody. That’s already his schtick. The built form of an unfunny comedian asking stupid questions pretty much serves as a blueprint of parody.
Peterson, though, with all his pseudo-philosopher pretensions and an obscurant academic text to prove his intellectual bona fides, has had to work himself into an increasingly frothy, indignant lather in a race to the bottom of the parody hole, a come-to-life Sam the Eagle. 12 Rules for Life blah, blah, blah. That didn’t help turn things around for you and got a few more bucks to burn? Here’s 12 More Rules for Life. Beyond Order! now. His recent ventures into understanding female sexuality. Jordan B. Peterson: Climate Expert. The climate is ‘about everything’. You can’t possibly model and predict everything. Actual climate experts begged to differ.
Whatever veneer it is these type of guys shellac their public profiles with, drill down past the surface and what it’s really all about was on full display last week during the civil trial of fellow mad man clown show host Alex Jones. This is news to almost no one, I’m sure. Guy makes a fortune spouting hoax nonsense about a school shooting and when cornered under oath in a court of law admits he knows the shooting happened. No hoax. Never a hoax. Only one great big fucking fundraising lie.
That’s these guys. All of them. Grasping money-grubbers, and all that entails. Amoral. Full of shit. Narcissistic. Shameless. If making money is all that matters, making money means proof of concept. What I’m doing must be right. Being right denotes the truth.
Disrupting and distorting public discourse purely for profit. That’s as deep and interesting as it gets. If it bleeds, it leads, so let’s spill blood all over the place. We’ll mop it up with all the extra cash money we’re not using to light our cigars with.
The m.o. of hucksters and charlatans since the time we discovered our resources were limited, believing there was a sucker born every minute. It’s hard to argue with such success. We just shouldn’t give it any more credence or legitimacy than that. Bottom-line bullshit artists whether they preen high-brow or puff out working class. In it for nobody but their bank account.