Why Is Jordan Peterson Selling Lobster Merch?

Peterson, with his lobster-print tie. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage

Why is Canadian professor and Reddit’s favorite philosopher Jordan Peterson now advertising his “lobster capsule collection” ?

The short answer is that his all-meat-everything diet is probably pretty expensive, and selling merchandise is a built-in, low-input way to make money from an already established fan base. (It’s certainly less effort than writing a follow-up to a 400-page pop-psych bestseller like Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.) The same effort-to-payoff equation applies to YouTube streams: Though Peterson’s lectures on theology and “the Marxist lie of white privilege” consistently reach the seven figures, YouTube reportedly only pays around $740 per million streams.

Why the lobster? Peterson frequently points to the crustacean as counterevidence to the claim that social hierarchies are constructed:

Lobsters exist in hierarchies. They have a nervous system attuned to the hierarchy. And that nervous system runs on serotonin, just like our nervous systems do. And the nervous system of the lobster and of the human being is so similar that antidepressants work on lobsters. It’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with sociocultural construction. Which it doesn’t.

So, whether or not the science behind Peterson’s claim is totally bunk, the lobster serves as a mascot for his pitch that social hierarchy is natural, and that its winning candidates are men who clean their rooms and stand up straight with their shoulders back. With that mascot, Peterson is selling $34 T-shirts and $48 hoodies decked out in little Vineyard Vines–style lobster print. Perhaps as a good-faith measure to expand his audience to women — Peterson once claimed his viewership was 91 percent male — he’s also selling $45 leggings.

At similar price points, Peterson is also selling shirts, throw pillows, and fleece blankets of his own “Meaning of Music” foam core sculpture, which he eloquently describes as:

A three-dimensional representation of a two-dimensional representation of a four-dimensional object. And that four-dimensional object you can think of as a representation of time and space … It means the same thing that music means.

That an influencer — albeit an ostensibly philosophical, right-wing one — is hawking T-shirts is not in and of itself important. But the move comes a few months after Peterson’s decision to leave the popular crowdfunding patronage site Patreon. Peterson, who claims he was the “2nd mostly highly funded creator on the site,” left Patreon in January, citing “emerging censorship on the platform.” (He now encourages fans to donate at his own site, where he self-reports some 5,000 supporters.) Despite making a reported $66,000 a month on Patreon, Peterson decided to leave in protest after the British YouTuber and anti-feminist Carl Benjamin was banned from the platform for saying the N-word.

Why Is Jordan Peterson Selling Lobster Merch?