We all remember beer goggles—those beverage-toggled prisms through which the less attractive suddenly become unicorns. I suspect that single people are experiencing some version of pandemic goggles these days. But in recent years, I’ve found myself—like many impressionable American males—falling prey to Joe Rogan goggles: where anything that Joe Rogan tells me I should like, I like. And buy. And tell everyone about. Simply because Joe said so.
Joe has recommended everything from standup comedy specials to books; from real estate in Texas to workout recovery powders; from welterweight UFC pay-per-views to kettlebells shaped like gorillas. When Joe endorsed Bernie, I became a socialist. When he had Kanye on, I liked my Yeezys again. When he had Elon Musk on, I smoked weed for the first time that day. When Joe posted a boxing workout, I purchased a heavy bag, only to learn that I live in a structurally-unsound building with feeble ceilings. When the ceiling collapsed on me (I was swinging on the bag by wrapping my arms and legs around it), I sued the landlord and won a settlement that paid for private boxing training at a certified gym—a huge upgrade. Thanks Joe.
Some of these things I might have found on my own. But Joe made the process easier. Whatever Joe likes, I like. What choice do I have? Joe Rogan is the end of my free will.
Here’s an example: I read S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, a book about the Comanche Indians and their battles with the early settlers of the American west. I thought it was decent, though a little boring for the last hundred pages or so. Overall, I would have assigned the book a B or maybe a B+, and I probably wouldn’t have recommended it to a friend.
But then Joe Rogan read it, and praised it on the podcast, and then had the author on to talk about it. Next thing you know, every dude I follow is posting Instagram stories of the book on their lap, talking about how cool Quanah is, how awesome it is to ride horses and shoot arrows from the side of the horse, wow, reading is awesome, go go history! Keep in mind, many of these guys probably hadn’t read a book in years. Perhaps ever. In fact, some of them might have learned to read simply to digest this Joe Rogan recommendation. That’s how powerful Joe is; he makes men literate.
Did I tell anyone that I’d read it before Joe recommended it, and that I thought it was mediocre at best? Of course not. But I DID realize that I must have been absolutely wrong in my appraisal of the book. Surely, if Joe Rogan loved it so much, I am wrong. Thus, I revised my review of Empire of the Summer Moon: it is the best book I have ever read.
I know the importance of making my own judgements. And I’ve tried to do so, as long as they align with Joe’s. Once I’ve finished the book, or movie, or DMT seance, I render my judgement. 100% of the time, it was the best book/movie/seance of my life. Is that because Joe’s opinion completely bulldozes mine into submission, or is because he has impeccable taste? A true chicken versus egg conundrum.
Whatever it may be, I watched the Netflix movie I Care A Lot last night with my lady. The movie has a pretty bad audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 37%. I consult RT before every movie I watch, and I don’t think I’ve watched a movie below 75% in many, many years. Needless to say, the only reason I watched this was because Joe Rogan posted this:
Guess what? Loved it. “Best movie I’ve seen in a long while”—Joe Rogan—Francis Ellis. Couldn’t have said it better myself, which is why I quoted him instead. Really, really enjoyed this movie. Rosamund Pike is fantastic. Peter Dinklage is tremendous. You don’t know who to root for, and it shifts a couple times which keeps you totally hooked. And you know what? I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, given my prior allegiance to Rotten Tomatoes.
But sometimes in life, you have to think for yourself. Sometimes, you have to realize you’re a 31-year-old with enough life experience to stand on your own two feet. Rotten Tomatoes can guzzle smegma. You guys are no longer a reliable aggregator of movie reviews.
Boy, that felt good. Break free of your old sources. Try to think for yourself. It’s liberating.