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The Rise of Jordan Peterson Review: New Documentary Captures the Tumultuous Celebrity of the Famous Academic

The Rise of Jordan Peterson Review: New Documentary Captures the Tumultuous Celebrity of the Famous Academic

As the old saying goes, he contains multitudes.

It would be easy to take a side on the issue of Jordan Peterson. Certainly at this point most everyone has. The controversial Canadian professor, author, free speech activist and public speaker has developed a massive international reputation over the past three years since he initially spoke out against the Canadian Bill C16, which threatened to make anti-transgender speech illegal.

In leftist circles, Peterson has been branded a transphobe and a clown. But he’s developed a bad reputation in the fringe corners of the right where he’s been written off as everything from a globalist, socialist, a mentally ill sociopath projecting his insecurities onto a generation of young men, a cult leader, an atheist spreading misinformation about Christianity, a “Jewish stooge” and, according to one unnamed far right forest creature, a “wizard”.

Certainly he’s not without criticism. Still it’s hard to deny his work hasn’t been a boon to western civilization. By all rights, Peterson’s ideas are a wart on the face of modern life, evidence that the modern progressive status quo isn’t sustainable. Any world where Dr. Jordan Peterson can rise to fame with basic truism and life advice isn’t in a good place.

Thus is the central contradiction explored in the new documentary The Rise of Jordan Peterson. The film, from first time director Patricia Marcoccia, follows the life behind the scenes of Dr. Peterson from 2016’s free speech protests until the moment his star rose and he began his international book tour for 12 Rules for Life.

While overall a mostly positive exploration of Dr. Peterson’s celebrity, the movie does offer a somewhat nuanced opinion on the professor. The movie is mostly about him, his internal life and thoughts and the reaction the world has had to his rise but it doesn’t shy away from some harsh points against him.

We meet friends of Dr. Peterson including supporters like Jonathan Pageau but we also get comprehensive interviews with critics of his both in and outside of his immediate circle. Most notable of these includes an extensive interview with one of the leaders of the transgender/non-binary protesters from the 2016 protests who is concerned his fame has created an atmosphere of open hostility towards government policies that protect trans people.

The only real problem with this is that it focuses the entire narrative around Peterson in a way that mostly marginalizes his critics. The movie does a good job giving his critics a chance to plainly speak their minds but the movie’s attention is so focused on him that it makes those critiques feel trivial at times. Still the portrait it paints isn’t designed to worship him.

Overall we see Dr. Peterson is a delicate, conflicted man whose ideas have been thrust onto the stage of history. He’s a man dealing with having been declared a savior. This realization sparks fears of both wanting to reject that title and egotistically feeling the need to embrace it.

Maybe the most interesting contradiction it captures is the way he expresses himself at home. He’s the kind of man who fears totalitarianism more than anything yet lines his home with Soviet Realist paintings to contemplate them.

As the old saying goes, he contains multitudes.

It’s clear from the footage just how much celebrity has affected him physiologically. In his earliest interviews he talks extremely stiffly with an air of fear. Three years on you can tell that the effects of his fame have been quite prominent. He’s lost a lot of weight; likely from stress.

While it’s not addressed in the documentary, Dr. Peterson recently checked himself into rehab as a result of an addiction to clonazepam which he was prescribed after discovering his wife was gravely ill. I can only wish the best for him as he’s dealing with such horrific, serious personal and family problems.

The best takeaway from The Rise of Jordan Peterson one can take is that more than anything, he’s just a person. He’s not the savior of western civilization. He’s not a messiah figure. He’s also not some malicious globalist figure attempting to control the minds of the youth. He’s a man who’s unique psychology, position, intelligence and willingness to put his freedom on the line thrust him into prominence.


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JusticeDelivered | September 30, 2019 at 9:43 am

No one is without flaws. One can have flaws and still be right, and much of what Peterson says has merit.

I would be interested in rather or not criticism of Peterson is coming from RINOs. Are people suffering from TDS likely to be also criticising Peterson?

    I don’t think Vox Day who wrote Jordanetics (a riff on Scientology’s Dianetics) that took apart his 12 rules for life was included in the documentary.

    The problem is one of someone who wants a conversion, but finds a fakir televangelist instead of an orthodox preacher.

    Peterson is the authorized opposition – he isn’t even for free speech (one of the conferences he agreed to have – I think it was Faith Goldy – removed). Take your pills is “obey the elites”, Clean your room – although the house is on fire.

    An extended audiobook clip of Jordanetics is available

      pst314 in reply to tz. | September 30, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      I hear that Vox Day called Jordan Peterson “a fraud”, which is an astonishing allegation. I suspect he is motivated by Peterson’s strong criticisms of racial identity ideologies.

        Arminius in reply to pst314. | October 1, 2019 at 2:29 am

        I’m not going to start off by accusing you of lying. I have no reason to think you are deliberately dealing in falsehoods. But I’ve listened carefully to what Jordan Peterson has to say. He makes a lot of sense. And I’ve not noticed any “racial identity theologies.”

        But then consider the source. I hope somebody can give me some useful advice. I find myself mixed up with a crazy woman. Not the usual kind of crazy that all men are familiar with. I confided in someone I thought was a friend that since I need both hips replaced, and I can’t bend down and pick up after myself, and this has been going on for a while and I just found out I can’t have surgery until at least January.

        My house was a disaster.

        So the guy I thought was a friend told me he knew a lady who could help me out with the house cleaning. He introduced her to me, and everything seemed copasetic. Even better, she told me if I let her stay in my upstairs bedroom I would get a discount on the cleaning.

        As I said, I need both hips replaced. So she had nothing to worry about me because even if she was a temptress (she’s not) there’s no way I’m climbing two flights of stairs.

        I didn’t know this when I first met her but she’s an Arab Muslim. I thought she was Hispanic. I think, knowing what I have learned about Arab culture and how it treats women, that might explain her rage issues. Because I was thanking her for cooking me a delicious lunch, exchanging what I though were pleasantries, and she starts screaming at me, “They raped her because they are gay!”

        “Whoa, where is this coming from?” I don’t speak crazy, so it was hard for me to decipher what she was yelling at me.

        I am not making this up because I don’t have sufficient imagination to come up with the sentence, “They raped her because they are gay.”

        I did glean a couple of other things from her tirade. Such as “Muhammad was a f**” (This is only five minutes after she was telling me what a perfect man he was; I was like, “And I thought I had a low opinion of Muhammad”) and, “This has nothing to do with you.” (I’m thinking, it does now have something to do with me). Which made it even scarier because now I’m a non-person and she’s fixing me with a stare that tells me, if she could, she’d rip my chest open and eat my still-beating heart in front of my eyes.

        It takes a lot to scare me. Even though my wheels don’t work well anymore I still consider myself a fighter. And I have spent some time in a boxing ring and an MMA octagon.

        But now I’m thinking Glenn Close and the boiling bunny scene in “Fatal Attraction.” And I’m starting to get scared because I can’t stay awake forever. Now all the metal knives are locked up in the gun safe. The only knives I have left in my house are plastic.

        Except for the K-Bar Becker Necker that I have, as the name implies, tied around my neck.

        Does anybody have any ideas how I can get out of this? The only answer I can come up with is to sell my house and disappear.

        If it seems like I’m making light of the situation it’s because I am. Do I have a choice? One of my mottos I’ve tried to live my life by is, “Situation hopeless, but not serious.” That was I believe the final radio transmission of Czech partisans who assassinated the police chief and governor of the Nazi “protectorate” of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. When the Gestapo tracked them down. If it wasn’t their final transmission it should have been.

        It’s nearly 1:30 A.M. She’s talking in her sleep. I don’t like what I’m listening to.

          pst314 in reply to Arminius. | October 1, 2019 at 9:08 am

          Huh? Who is this “you” that you think might be dealing in falsehoods? The grammar of your comment indicates that it is me, but the substance of what you wrote, juxtaposed with what I wrote, make that seem unlikely.

      “Peterson is the authorized opposition – he isn’t even for free speech (one of the conferences he agreed to have – I think it was Faith Goldy – removed).”

      I struggle to swallow your premise here. Peterson rose to prominence because he *refused* to be forced to say certain things.

      If I’m an important person being invited into a conference, I should have the right to say “You really want me there. You want me to explain my theory of life. I’m going to have limited time. If Bob is going to be there, half my time will be spent knocking down his absurd arguments that I’ve knocked down many times before. That makes my time there only half as effective, which doesn’t make it worth my time to travel there.”

        pst314 in reply to georgfelis. | October 1, 2019 at 9:26 am

        Agreed. And the academic left’s demands for “equal time” are a cynically dishonest ploy: These leftists do not want to allow “equal time” for people who disagree with leftist speakers, and indeed will not allow it. The sooner the academic left is driven into the wilderness of serving coffee and mopping bathroom floors the better.

My take is that his weight loss is not due simply to stress, but due to following his daughter’s lead for health reasons to adopting a strictly carnivorous diet: meat, salt, and water.

There was a time I would have tuned Jordan out for his comments about God and faith. But with age I’ve come to see there is a whole lot of difference between the trappings of religion and the person of God; the former more often than not obscuring the latter. Whether I agree with him or not, I admire his bravery, conviction, reason and his demeanor. Wish he were a little more William F. Buckley like – oh how he could take an idiot liberal for a ride.

    pst314 in reply to MrE. | September 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    One of the first things that struck me about Jordan Peterson was that, unlike so many liberals I have known, he seems to be truly motivated by benevolence rather than envy and resentment.

one of the leaders of the transgender/non-binary protesters from the 2016 protests who is concerned his fame has created an atmosphere of open hostility towards government policies that protect trans people.

And yet all Jordan Peterson has done is oppose laws that would criminalize speech and even worse to criminalize refusal to use mandated speech. Many in Canada (and America and the UK) seem to have forgotten what free speech means.

I have read “The 12 rules for Life” and it gave me a broader perspective of Jordan. I also have seen him in several interviews where he is almost run out of the room by biased interviewers. What is so astonishing to me is that I went through the same metamorphosis on religion as he and it is a clarifying moment in my life. Sort of like when you realize that there are no honest politicians.

Having watched many many hours of is interviews and his lectures I believe the Movie Trailer is a better representation of the truth than the article. I find the article to be littered with misrepresentations and almost deceptive!

It’s a real shame that people misrepresent him especially now when the life he describes in almost all him lectures as brutal, difficult and laden with mines is the one his is currently living!

I’ll pray for the man and his family!

Clonazepam, when used as prescribed, can result in psychological and physical dependence.

People who are dependent and abruptly stop using clonazepam may experience withdrawal signs and symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, tremors, and muscle cramps.1,6 People who have been taken large doses over a long period of time may experience more severe symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, and convulsions.

He was wise to seek help and physical support when he had trouble tapering off.

Hmmm…Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Tyler Bear? Is that you?

It doesn’t appear to have been mentioned on this comment thread. I’ve lost track of the comment thread on which it did appear. So I’m just going to put it here and feel free to make fun of me.

Somebody commented about learning there are no honest politicians.

I learned that at a young age. I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. We weren’t poor, but on a USCG Radioman Senior Chief’s salary my dad couldn’t afford both a house and furniture. So he bought the house and we used fruit and vegetable crates from the grocery store as furniture. That and a plywood plank that served as our table top.

My parents, rather than spending money on luxuries, invested in my education. So although I am a Sailor, and I know how to swear like a Sailor, and believe you me my Coastie dad knew how to swear like a Sailor, I don’t swear. If anyone asks I just tell them that my parents spent a lot of money on my education and I have a vocabulary and I’m going to use it.

Except sometimes. I’m inspired by George Washington, who when crossing the Delaware said “Shift your fat 6ss Henry, you’re going to swamp the g*dd*mmed boat.”

If I were doing something historical and heroic I would consider swearing. So I could sound like General Patton.

My dad, the sainted Senior Chief, taught me early in life that their are no honest politicians. He didn’t make it a habit to bring me to political meetings. But one time he brought me to a meeting after basketball practice at what may not have been at the time but later was the Cesar Chavez community center in Oakland, Kali.

You can probably tell how this is going to turn out. Not well.

It had to do with a bond issue, if fickle memory serves. The pols had earlier came to the voters and asked them to vote for money so that the police and firemen and EMTs could all use the same radios and communicate. The voters were like, “Fine, that sounds like something worthwhile. Let’s spend money on it.”

They worded the proposition as “community safety.” And then spent the money on a gay teen center.

I’m trying to be sensitive here. If you think that a gay teen center is worthwhile, say so. Let your fellow citizens vote on it. But don’t do the bait and switch with first responder’s radios.

“…ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, just a few minutes after the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, a police helicopter pilot circling the remaining tower reported that the top 15 floors were “glowing red” and said he believed the building would soon implode. Four minutes later, another helicopter pilot also warned that he didn’t think the second tower could last much longer. Most of the police officers in the North Tower heard those warnings and were able to evacuate. But that information never reached firefighters, for a simple reason: Radio systems for the Fire Department, the Police Department, and the Port Authority Police were all incompatible with each other…”

Again. I’m trying to be all kinds of sensitive. If gay teen centers are a worthwhile expenditure, then make the case.
But don’t use radios as an excuse.

I left Kali for Tejas in 2005. Which was after my sainted senior chief dad taught me a valuable life lesson. Republican, Democrqt, they’re all just politicians.

So I go to the meeting with my dad. And he brings up the fact the voters already voted for the bond issue so the police and firefighters can all have compatible radios.

You know what the city councilman said go my dad? “Oh, yeah, you voted for that but we spent the money on something else.”

I kept my mouth shut until we got back into the car. Then I turn to him and say, “When I turn 18 and can vote I’m not giving them q f***ing dime.”

And he didn’t hit me for saying the “F” word. In fact, even though I was underage he gave me a beer.

My dad would have slapped the silly off my face if I had dared to say that around my mom. But “dare” is no doubt the wrong word. I have too much respect for my mom. I have too much respect for ladies.

My dad is a plank owner in the Golden Gate USCG Chief’s Club.

If you are not familiar with the nautical terminology, “Plank Owner” means founding member.

I have been trying to come up with a name for my horse. I’ve never actually had a horse of my own. I just always rented them. Any suggestions? I was thinking “Widow Maker” has been done. Maybe Tarantella. Italian for tarantula. For short I can call him or her Tar.

He was the Oakland A’s mascot. Charley Finley didn’t give a rip about him. The baseball players came and went. But I took care of him.

If you think that a gay teen center is worthwhile, say so. Let your fellow citizens vote on it. But don’t do the bait and switch with first responder’s radios.

I’ve seen that dishonesty from government employees who, in their franker moments, reveal that they think of themselves not as servants of a free citizenry but as masters of contemptible peasants.

    Arminius in reply to pst314. | October 1, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    My only choices when I borrowed my last horse were “Widow Maker” and “Satan.” I’m like, “Are you kidding me right now?” And the wrangler tells me, “No.”

    So I tell him, if I get a choice, I’m not choosing Satan.

    It was either Widow Maker or I don’t go on the elk hunt.

    And Widow maker wasn’t that bad. I lived.

I usually don’t pay guides to take me hunting. Because. Now you know. Now everyone knows.

But every once in a while I didn’t have a choice. I’m stationed in Japan. And I’m going to a conference in Washington D.C. So I look up a hunting guide in the back pages of Field and Stream. Or Outdoor Life.

I forget. It was a long time ago.

PST, there is a mysterious “They” out there. And “They” are raping her because they are gay.

I can’t explain any of this.

I realize this seems unlikely to you. But it is real as h3ll to me.

I’m sure I must not make fun of my situation. Because that serves to convince you I have nothing to be concerned about. That would be wrong. This thing can possibly turn lethal.

When the NORKs sank the Cheonan in 2010 I was crazed with anger. I remembered my days in the ROKS Anyang (PCC-755). The idea that some of my friends might have been killed made me want to go to war.

Even if none of my Republic of Korea Navy personal friends were involved, you just don’t do that and escape.

My Korean friends aboard the Anyang made me laugh. “We don’t have the special food for foreigners.” I’m like, “I’m good with Korean food.” Do any of you Army types remember KATUSA kitchens?

I still want to go to war.

It is better that cooler heads prevail.