Joe and I
Thoughts to my subscribers on the Pull Request anniversary, and various pseudo-events I've been involved in
A pseudo-event, then, is a happening that possesses the following characteristics:
(1) It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted, or incited it. Typically, it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview.
(2) It is planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced. The question, “Is it real?” is less important than, “Is it newsworthy?”
(3) Its relation to the underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous. Its interest arises largely from this very ambiguity.
In the last half century a larger and larger proportion of our experience, of what we read and see and hear, has come to consist of pseudo-events. We expect more of them and we are given more of them. They flood our consciousness.
Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America
The distressing normality of Joe Rogan
As has by now become well-known to The Spectacle, I went on Rogan.
It’s hard to overstate the influence and impact of Joe Rogan. Eleven million downloads per episode is more than the daily viewership of all the major network shows like Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow put together. This of course is why he had to be canceled for his COVID views, or his use of certain words (cited out-of-context, of course) in years-old episodes … or something like that. Rogan had to go down, because we can’t have a much-loved and -watched one-man media empire who makes the New York media putzes look like, well, putzes just get away with it, can we? No, he definitely has to go.
But he’s not going away, and he’ll outlast whatever little scrum of angry, frustrated, and dumb Spotify employees are trying to take him down. With any luck, they’ll be sent packing, like my cancelers at Apple were or the malcontents at Coinbase were after their management displayed the rarest of commodities these days: moral fortitude. Between whatever useless and narcissistic Spotify employees, who spend their days crybullying on Spotify’s Slack channels about this or that grievance, and Joseph James Rogan, I’m betting on Joe. He will outlast them all, including possibly Spotify’s management itself if they play their cards wrong.
So what’s life like after Rogan?
You have no idea: the sky is bluer, sugar is sweeter, beer tastes better, attractive members of the opposite gender swoon in my presence now … life is utterly different.
That’s all rubbish of course.
I gained 20k Twitter followers and a small bump in Substack subscribers who might be a bit disappointed if they take the show as representative of Pull Request content. Or perhaps not. Time and the churn rate will tell.
But it certainly adds a badge to the brand.
Just this week I was pitching a crypto VC (who seemed to be roughly between the age of 14 and 18) and he didn’t know anything about me: Times bestseller, early Facebook, bylines in WIRED, WaPo, etc …. who gives a shit?
“You were on Rogan!”
That’s all that mattered. That’s probably why he took the meeting. That’s Rogan clout: anointing what’s a Boorstin-ian pseudo-event and what isn’t. It’s the closest we’ve had to a Cronkite in decades—to Zoomers living in the Internet’s Eternal Present, that was the Rogan of the 60s and 70s (note: way before my time). Nothing and nobody else comes close.
And what’s he like?