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24 Jul, 2020 17:43

Men’s Health magazine tells Joe Rogan to shut up & look pretty

Men’s Health magazine tells Joe Rogan to shut up & look pretty

Lifestyle mag Men’s Health is clutching its pearls over podcaster Joe Rogan’s conversation with a transgender-skeptical writer – but they were fawning over his workout and diet just months ago. What changed? Not his politics.

Rogan’s number-one podcast is “putting lives in danger,” freelance writer Philip Ellis shrieked in the pages of Men’s Health earlier this week. Ellis pointed a quivering finger of outrage at the former MMA commentator over an episode guest-starring journalist Abigail Shrier, in which the pair bemoan what they see as a coordinated push within the medical industry to railroad young girls into irreversible gender transitions. 

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Declaring Rogan “has a history of platforming divisive voices,” Ellis accused him of “actively fanning the flames of hate” and exposing millions of subscribers to “bigotry” and “hate speech,” all for the sake of clicks. By inviting Shrier on his program, the writer claimed, Rogan “lend[s] a veneer of credibility to some truly dangerous prejudices.

The podcast episode, in which both parties evince genuine concern for both trans people and children being tempted with irreversible medical procedures, bears little resemblance to the hateful foaming described by Ellis.

But Rogan’s skepticism about the transgender issue – especially regarding children – has been well-known for years. While it has made him something of a controversial figure among liberals (many of whom watch him anyway), it was apparently just fine with Ellis three months ago, when he fawningly covered Rogan’s quarantine workout tips, also for Men’s Health. While Rogan shared the fitness pointers on a podcast episode with comedian Greg Fitzsimmons, there’s no mention of “divisiveness” or “hate” in that article – presumably because the MMA commentator was waxing poetic about “crazy cardio” instead of expressing concern over teen girls having their breasts removed without so much as a therapist’s note.

It’s far from the first time Men’s Health has featured an adoring writeup of Rogan, either. The podcaster’s 30-day “Carnivore Diet” was the subject of a February piece in which the writer detailed Rogan’s “explosive uber diarrhea” and weight loss on the meat-only regime. No complaints about “hate” there, either – not even a tear shed for the animals who died to end up on Rogan’s plate – but then, the comedian’s political views were carefully tucked away there too.

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Suddenly, the podcast superstar has become “an intellectual shock jock who amplifies the voices of conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, homophobes, and transphobes in the name of interesting conversation”? Ellis’ newly-minted outrage rings false, and Rogan’s fans apparently weren’t afraid to call him out on it – the writer locked his Twitter feed after publishing the article. 

For Men’s Health to come out of left field scolding Rogan for expressing his long-held views is the male equivalent of Vogue telling a female model to “Shut up and look pretty.” It also reeks of opportunism, taking advantage of the rising fashion for “cancel culture” (which isn’t exactly popular among the few fitness-minded men who still read their magazine).

Acquired by mega-publisher Hearst in 2018, Men’s Health has kept afloat while other magazines go under by continuing to serve up workout and diet advice ostensibly directed at men, even as “men’s spaces” vanish from the earth. A quick glance at its masthead, however, reveals its staff hail from “woke” publications like Mic and Teen Vogue – and a closer look at its headlines (‘Inside a Bromance Book Club’, ‘How Face Masks Signal Strength’) suggest a political agenda quietly being pushed in between the diet tips and fitness routines. That agenda definitely doesn’t include questioning hormone treatment for high-schoolers, and it was probably only a matter of time before Men’s Health joined the rest of the media establishment in piling on Rogan (whose audience dwarfs theirs many times over).

However, it’s possible the sudden outrage over Rogan’s long-held opinions comes from a less sinister place. Ellis accuses Rogan of pushing controversial guests not because he agrees with what they’re saying or believes those excluded from the mainstream deserve a platform, but to generate “outrage clicks.” 

Given that Men’s Health has had more traffic from angry Rogan fans in the last week than they’ve probably had in months, the intent may have been to rustle up some outrage clicks of their own. In which case, mission accomplished.

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