Film and TV

Reality Bites: Joe Rogan Questions Everything

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

If your only exposure to Joe Rogan is through NewsRadio, as the host of Fear Factor, or as a color commentator in the Ultimate Fighting Championship circuit, then you have either my respect or pity. For in recent years, Rogan has become famous for hosting a podcast on iTunes -- The Joe Rogan Experience -- which has vaulted to the top of several "best of" lists by extolling the virtues of DMT and claiming killer whales only stopped eating humans when WWII pilots started using them for target practice.

There's no half-assed conspiracy theory Rogan won't explore, and in between claiming the moon landing was a hoax and endorsing the "nootropic" Alpha BRAIN (for "mental dominance"), he managed to land a TV show in which he brings his patented "I'm just *asking questions*" approach to a wider audience.

Of course, that audience is on the SyFy Channel, so he's having this exchange with the same people who voluntarily watched Sharknado. Obviously a scientific discourse isn't the end result here.

Unfortunately, the episode of Joe Rogan Questions Everything I caught (is this just a more hands-on version of Penn & Teller's Bullshit?) dealt with the existence of Bigfoot, a subject I've covered previously on RB. To sum up: I think the existence of "cryptids" like the yeti or the Loch Ness Monster would be groovy, but absent physical or photographic evidence, think that's about as likely as Rick Perry being elected President.

Rogan's first contact is one Dr. Johnson, a psychologist who had a close encounter with a 'squatch (short for "Sasquatch," which I'll assume you non SyFy viewers were able to deduce on your own) and conducted extensive research but eventually gave up. The nature of this "research" is never disclosed, meaning he could've been doing nothing but searching Wikipedia until carpal tunnel syndrome stayed his mighty hand. Rogan takes this opportunity to ask the obvious question: how the hell has a Sasquatch *never* been caught on camera? Well, aside from that 1967 film, more on that below.

He also talks to one Dr. Meldrum, and anthropologist and "expert in human movement" (I'll bet he positively *kills* in Zumba class) who is one of the only people on the planet who doesn't think the Roger Patterson Bigfoot film is complete bullshit. The general theme of the show appears to be, "Well, this all sounds like complete and utter bullshit. By all means, let's keep digging."

On a side note, it's even harder to take any of this seriously when it's sandwiched between ads for Lake Placid 3.

Next up, there's the science teacher who claims not to be "obsessed" with the subject of Bigfoot or anything, in spite of the plaster casts of Bigfootprints hanging throughout his classroom (they've got *dermal ridges*), and the bags of (alleged) Bigfoot shit he keeps in a drawer. Even after all that, I'd still take him as my kids' teacher over some creationist. We also meet a cryptolinguist whom Rogan affords a great deal of respect because affiliation with the military precludes any possibility of insanity. Isn't that right, Private Oswald?

Rogan and fellow comedian Duncan Trussell eventually join a group of Bigfoot hunters who set up cameras and microphones in the forest at night to capture evidence of Sasquatch. Surprisingly, none of this has yielded any credible evidence (possibly because no one bothers to venture more than 50 yards from a road/trail to do so). They also come across several trees in a vaguely tepee-like formation that absolutely confounds Rogan: "That was not something that was created by nature." Rogan either doesn't get outdoors much or has smoked too much weed to remember that trees falling in closely packed areas can occasionally, I don't know, lean against each other.

There are lots of exchanges that play out like this: "Dude!" "Dude?" "Dude." I was disappointed Keanu Reeves didn't make a guest appearance.

Rogan returns to the podcast with Trussell, where they revel in the "other dimensionality" of the forests of the Northwest, and how they could conceal a civilization of giant missing links for at least the last 300 years (hint: because they're so DENSE, man). Finally, the NYU primatologist who tested the aforementioned Bigfoot scat delivers the sad news: the samples are probably from a black bear and a wolf. And not even a werewolf.

I can understand questioning the government (who lie to us on a regular basis) or wondering if perhaps some of what the media calls important isn't actually so, but expending yet more oxygen on bloviating about the veracity of Bigfoot (or crop circles, or - seriously - the existence of government weather controlling technology) seems like a colossal waste of time. Even to someone with as much of it to kill as Rogan apparently has.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar