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Ava DuVernay leaves Spotify amid Joe Rogan controversy

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
Ava DuVernay leaves Spotify amid Joe Rogan controversy

Ava DuVernay, a documentary filmmaker whose powerful productions have sparked conversations about race in America, became the latest artist to leave Spotify after videos surfaced of podcast host Joe Rogan using racial slurs.

Previously, other artists like Neil Young initially pulled out of Spotify over Rogan’s misinformed comments surrounding the COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, DuVernay’s exit comes after artist India Arie’s own public departure. Arie highlighted a compilation video depicting Rogan using the n-word dozens of times on his show over a 12-year span.

According to the New York Times, Ava DuVernay’s film company ARRAY ended an exclusive multi-year first-look deal with Spotify this month. DuVernay has reportedly not given a reason for the departure. Yet, more artists are beginning to break away from the streaming platform over its decision to stand by Joe Rogan.

Ava DuVernay leaves Spotify amid Joe Rogan controversy

Rogan’s “apology”

Last week, Rogan released a short video acknowledging his use of the n-word and claiming the clips were “taken out of context.”

“It’s not my word to use. I am well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” Rogan said. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist.” It looks like the apology didn’t resonate with Ava DuVernay.

While his team voluntarily removed 70 podcast episodes in which he used the word, many aren’t taking his apology seriously. 

Meanwhile, Spotify doesn’t have any plans of ending its exclusive $100 million deal with Rogan’s show. The Joe Rogan Experience remains the most popular podcast show.

Spotify stands by Joe Rogan as Ava DuVernay makes her exit

In fact, despite calling Rogan’s slurs “incredibly hurtful,” Spotify’s CEO doubled down in his support for keeping Rogan’s podcast on the platform.

“While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more,” Ek said in the note. “And I want to make one point very clear — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”

Still, it appears Ava DuVernay isn’t here for the Tom foolery. She’s a graduate of Howard University, an HBCU. Clearly, DuVernay knows her worth as a Black woman and what she is or isn’t willing to tolerate. DuVernay is the producer of such groundbreaking films as “13th,” which explored the Constitutional Amendment allowing slavery in prisons today. She also produced “When They See Us.” The mini series re-enacted the story of a group of Black and Brown Central Park kids who faced wrongful convictions of rape.

As one of the most highly sought after racially conscious documentary filmmakers, Ava DuVernay is taking her money elsewhere. It remains to be seen how or whether Spotify responds. They will either see her decision as a call to action or simply the cost of doing business as usual.

3 comments

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[…] He previously expressed support for Joe Rogan, whose podcast has come under fire for spreading COVID-19 disinformation and a history of racial slurs.Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program […]

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