UPDATE: Jon Stewart issued a statement confirming his original comments about Harry Potter were lighthearted in nature, and that he does not believe the Harry Potter films nor author JK Rowling are anti-Semitic. The original version of this story appears in full below.
Jon Stewart recently condemned what he believes to be anti-Semitic tropes in the Harry Potter films.
In a new episode of his podcast The Problem With Jon Stewartthe Jewish comedian and political commenter drew a comparison between the franchise’s goblin bankers and anti-Semitic caricatures, Deadline reported. Mentioning many fans’ unfamiliarity with The Protocols of the Elders of Ziona notorious anti-Semitic text from 1903, Stewart said, “I just want to show you a caricature. And [people are] like, ‘Oh, look at that, that’s from Harry Potter!’ And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature.’ JK Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’
“It’s a wizarding world… we can ride dragons, you can have a pet owl… and who should run the bank? Jews,” Stewart continued. “It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen, and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy shit, [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the fucking underground bank.””
This isn’t the first time someone has pointed out anti-Semitism in the goblin characters, who have big noses and control the wizarding economy. However, Rowling has earned public ire for a different reason as of late. In 2020, the Harry Potter author came under fire for remarks that many people deemed transphobic. Since then, Rowling has doubled down on her concerns with trans activism, prompting franchise stars like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint to distance themselves from the author and issue statements reaffirming their support for the transgender community. Radcliffe also apologized to fans who were hurt by Rowling’s comments, saying, “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you… And in my opinion, nobody can touch that. .”
No cast members have commented on the claims of anti-Semitism at the time of this writing.
However the public feels about Rowling, Harry Potter continues to be as relevant as ever. Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts debuted on HBO Max this month, featuring behind-the-scenes stories and footage and bringing together franchise stars to reminisce. Notably, Rowling was not present and did not do any new interviews for the special. Sources say that her absence was a decision made by her team and unrelated to the controversy regarding her position on transgender issues.
The Wizarding World, one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time, is still putting out new content. The third installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, The Secrets of Dumbledore, opens in theaters on Apr. 15, with two more yet-to-be-titled films to follow. Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is available to stream on HBO Max.
KEEP READING: Fantastic Beasts 3’s Wizard Politics May Hide Something Sinister
Source: The Problem With Jon Stewartvia Deadline
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