Forty-eight hours after UFC 193, which featured two women's title fights and made professional sports history, UFC commentator and comedian Joe Rogan took to the airwaves to make sure MMA didn't progress too far too fast.
During an interview with UFC President Dana White and comedian Tony Hinchcliffe for his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, he began discussing Invicta featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Justino. Naturally, because he's such a hilarious guy, it led to Rogan making a joke at the expense of Cyborg's body.
Cyborg has long been a rumored opponent of Ronda Rousey, with the potential of a fight approaching mythic proportions. While this has been somewhat tempered in light of Rousey's knockout loss to Holly Holm, the bros nevertheless brought her up in the context of roasting MMA fighters. Rogan proposes that Hinchcliffe roast Cyborg (warning: link contains language NSFW) prior to her (hypothetical) UFC debut. This is the controversial exchange:
Hinchcliffe: "That would be amazing, I wouldn't even know where I'd begin. Where would I start?"
Rogan: "Her dick."
Hinchcliffe: "...like, she's the only person that cuts weight by chopping off her dick?"
It's not the first time Rogan has turned to juvenile commentary on women's bodies and whether they fit his ideal. But with this comment, he was primarily referencing the time Cyborg tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, which was in December 2011. Ever since, Cyborg has faced a ceaseless torrent of mockery about it, usually paired with references to her appearance. Even White has chimed in on Cyborg:
Many people, including Cyborg, objected to Rogan's joke. But maybe we should take a step back and think about this.
I mean, Cyborg did say it was bullying, and given Rogan's influence, it even reached her father and made him cry.
And she did post a picture of a crude rendition of a penis drawn on her car's rear window she says she discovered after a trip to the gym, which she attributed to a Joe Rogan listener.
But Rogan has apologized! In an interview with Stephie Haynes of Bloody Elbow, when asked about the comment and the backlash it received, Rogan said:
Well, if I had to do it again, I definitely wouldn't have made the joke.
I shouldn't have said it, but it's what you say if you're hanging around with comedians, you know? It's what we do. Plus, I had a couple of drinks. It was just a dumb thing to do, and I certainly didn't mean it with any malice. I honestly didn't. Then Tony elaborated on it and went even deeper with it. That's what you do in a roast. She didn't ask to be roasted, and it's not her fault, but it was in the context of what we were doing. Still, I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have said it. I do feel bad about it, because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.
Honestly, steroid allegations aside and all that other nonsense, I'm a fan of her as a fighter. I think she fights very well. She's very tough and she's fun to watch. I've said that before, and I've said it recently in a podcast with John Wayne Parr. We were talking about her fight with Jorina Baars, and I said it was a ballsy move for her to take that fight. Even though she lost that fight, she fought hard. She kept coming after Baars and she did very well.
Anyway, I didn't mean to start any static with her or anything like that, so I hope she accepts my apology. It's my fault and I take full responsibility."
He was just having some fun with his comedian buddy, and that is, apparently, just what they do when they hang out. That's chill, right? So can we really blame him? I mean, he didn't even mean to hurt her feelings.
Rogan has proved himself unable to employ forethought before speaking on multiple occasions, as he has said plenty of hurtful things with little concern for their effect. Since these barbs/attacks are frequently in the name of comedy, is it really even fair to object?
Maybe Rogan is at the peak of his self-awareness and self-actualization, and it turns out his best is sophomoric humor that revolves around humiliating the Other. If so, it would be unkind to fault him for his limitations.
I view women that don't like children the same way I view dogs that like to eat their own shit.— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) April 4, 2013
A humorous insight Rogan had about himself.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this isn't the first time I've written about Rogan. I took exception (warning: link contains NSFW language) to some of the things he said on his podcast (warning: language NSFW) about Fallon Fox, a transgender fighter Rogan just wasn't quite sure about:
She's not really a "she." She's a transgender, post-op person.
But, to be fair, Rogan did reassure us that he only means these things as it relates to Fox fighting, not her decision to live her gender outwardly. So it's OK to ignore that. While insisting he has no problem with Fox, he says she must be "out of (her) f--king mind" to want to fight women and informs her that she is "a man without a dick." Because he is not a "prejudiced person," you see.
I guess when he posted the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair cover to his Instagram, along with a quote about how there isn't enough time in life to "make sense" of the "mad, mad world," it probably wasn't in reference to Jenner's recent decision to come out as transgender. Remember, Rogan is just fine with that:
Earlier this year, I even went so far as to suggest he was damaging to the UFC's aspirations (Warning: link contains NSFW language) of mainstream acceptance, citing things like:
- his history of gendered insults, such as calling journalist Maggie Hendricks "c--ty," (link contains profanity) and then explaining/apologizing/defending it as simply a synonym for "bitchy"
- his history of gay slurs (link contains profanity), which he initially didn't think had the same types of dehumanizing connotations as the N-word, but he has since changed his tune because it's just "too much of a liability."
- his reduction of the fight for gender equality (link contains profanity) to a bunch of women who "have had a lot of negative experiences with men."
But this most recent apology to Cyborg has me rethinking my position.
When Rogan says anything about anything, regardless of how much research (Warning: Link contains profanity) he's done on the subject or how misinformed he is, we can rest assured that he probably was just having some fun and/or didn't mean anything mean by it.
For instance, consider his take on the removal of The Dukes of Hazzard from syndication following the uproar around the Confederate flag (Warning: contains NSFW language):
Despite that, he likens nationwide efforts to remove racist symbols that masquerade as contemporary culture to being feminized—or, as he puts it, "to turn our beloved country into a nation of weepy, sandy vaginas"—it turns out that he's really just lamenting how it affects his childhood memories, which is terribly sad.
Understandably, that's the real tragedy here, not that black people have had a century-plus-long reminder of the USA's history of slavery and continued oppression waving and championed all over the country, including on government buildings, as patriotic. No, the most offensive part of this battle for an America fair and more hospitable to its people of color is the corruption of Rogan's childhood memories.
In essence, Rogan is living the dream: blundering through life, doing and saying what he wants and rarely having to answer for it. In a way, he's inspirational! Maybe we would be wise to follow his lead and plead a blithe and utter lack of consideration for our missteps, whether they arise from live and unscripted broadcasting or from completely avoidable, gigantic potholes we're too buzzed, self-satisfied and giddy to notice.
For that matter, who are we to rain on Rogan's blissful parade? He's just trying to have a chill time with his bros. Why should objecting to the cruel/gross/oppressive things the UFC's most visible commentator says, to his vast audience, even be on our radar? Are those of us who object, in fact, weepy, sandy vaginas? I'm beginning to think we may be.
After all, he didn't mean anything malicious (note: following image may be disturbing for some):
Anything can be funny in comedy!