Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson walked back his praise of comedian and commentator Joe Rogan after clips emerged showing Rogan repeatedly using the "n-word" on several episodes of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Last week, Rogan took to Instagram to address the issues raised by many high-profile artists who demanded to be removed from Spotify in protest of their podcast deal with Rogan. The Rock left a supportive comment to Rogan's video, saying his remarks were “perfectly articulated” and that he "looked forward to coming on" his show one day.
That all backfired after a compilation video showing Rogan saying the N-word more than two dozen times went viral. Rogan, of course, insisted that his words were "taken out of context" but also expressed that the compilation was the “most regretful and shameful thing” he’s had to address since he found himself at the center of controversy.
Johnson, responding to an appeal from author Don Winslow, said that he "was not aware of" Rogan's use of the slur, saying that he has now "become educated to his [Rogan's] complete narrative."
Johnson described receiving the news as a "learning experience."
Johnson's apology received a mixed response, with many pointing out that Rogan has for years faced criticisms for using racial slurs and making racially charged comments on his podcast.
The controversy surrounding Rogan and his podcast erupted late last month after musician Neil Young threatened to cancel all of his music availability on Spotify, saying the company is "spreading false information about vaccines" because it distributes Rogan's podcast.
Young, in a since-deleted open letter, accused Spotify of "potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them" and said he could not in good conscience have his music distributed by a company that has played a role in spreading vaccine misinformation.
Young's demands come as public health experts urge Spotify to block Rogan, whose podcast is the most-listened-to podcast on the audio-streaming service.
Young was praised for speaking out and many have since joined him. Spotify said it would respect his wishes of removal, though it chose to keep Rogan's podcast on the service. Spotify later said it will add a content advisory to any podcast episode about COVID-19, adding that it would for the first time publicly post its long-standing Platform Rules.
Spotify has since removed 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience from their platform.