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Jon Stewart Responds After Comments About J.K. Rowling And Anti-Semitism Go Viral

Jon Stewart
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Harry Potter franchise has been entertaining audiences for decades, with entire generations brought up on the beloved books and accompanying movies. The Wizarding World has been making headlines thanks to the Return To Hogwarts reunion special on HBO Max, although Jon Stewart recently entered the mix thanks to a hot take he had about Gringotts’ Goblins. And now Stewart has responded after comments about J.K. Rowling and anti-semitism go viral.

Jon Stewart has had a long and celebrated career, and he’s also known for using his platform to speak on important issues. But that’s not what he had in mind when recording an episode of his podcast and joking about Harry Potter. His words were taken out of context and quickly went viral, with some outlets reporting that he was accusing J.K. Rowling of anti-semitism. Stewart set the record straight on a new episode (via Twitter), recalling:

We were bullshitting about all kinds of stuff, and we started talking about Bar Mitzvahs. And Jay did a funny riff on it like ‘What chapter of Harry Potter is that?’ And we went off on a Harry Potter thing. There is no reasonable person who could have watched it and not seen it as a light-hearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums, having a laugh. Enjoying ourselves about Harry Potter and my experience watching it for the first time in a theater as a Jewish guy. And how some tropes are so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible, even in a considered process like moviemaking.

That’s certainly some much-needed context when it comes to Jon Stewart’s viral comments about Gringotts bank in Harry Potter. He was merely riffing with some friends while recording a podcast, and recalled noticing how the Goblins who run the bank resemble negative Jewish stereotypes about moneylenders. That’s what eventually circulated all over the internet, and seemingly landed the former Daily Show host in some hot water. Stewart went on to clarify his feelings about the Wizarding World and J.K. Rowling, saying:

Let me just say this, super clearly, as clearly as I can. Hello, my name is Jon Stewart, and I do not think that J.K. Rowling is anti-semitic. I did not accuse her of being anti-semitic. I do not think the Harry Potter movies are anti-semitic. I really enjoy the Harry Potter movies, perhaps too much for someone of my considerable age. So I would just like to say that none of that is true, and no reasonable person could have looked at that conversation and not found it light-hearted.

Well, there you have it. Jon Stewart really put his feelings in black and white here, highlighting that he doesn’t think Harry Potter or its author are anti-semitic in any way. He was simply joking, while also pointing out how certain tropes have managed to become intrinsically part of the culture. That includes major movie franchises.

Given just how massively popular the Harry Potter franchise continues to be, there are generations of hardcore fans that likely reacted to Jon Stewart’s (out of context) comments about Gringotts. And this month-old conversation only seemingly went viral as a result of Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ release. While addressing the controversy, Stewart continued to hammer the point home, including an F-bomb. 

I cannot stress this enough, I’m not accusing J.K. Rowling of being anti-semitic. She need not answer to any of it. I don’t want the Harry Potter movies censored in any way. It was a light-hearted conversation. Get a fucking grip.

This story likely also went viral so quickly because J.K. Rowling has been involved in some controversy for the past few years. She’s been in a long-standing battle with the public over comments deemed by many as transphobic. So a claim of anti-semitism understandably turned heads. But now Jon Stewart has cleared up the situation, and likely quelled the drama in the process. 

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is streaming now, and the magical franchise will return to theaters with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore on April 15th, 2022. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.