Shutting down drama. Jon Stewart cleared the air after his comments about the potentially anti-Semitic imagery in J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series made headlines.
The former Daily Show host, 59, took to Twitter on Wednesday, January 5, in an attempt to further explain his thoughts about the beloved fantasy novels and their author, 56, whose personal opinions have become a hot topic in recent years.
“I have to address this. This is bonkers, guys. … I do not think 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,” Stewart said in his social media video. “I really love the Harry Potter movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age.”
Newsweek et al, may eat my ass. pic.twitter.com/eRoYYeNRi1
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) January 5, 2022
The comedian continued: “I cannot stress this enough — I am 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 lighthearted conversation. Get a f–king grip!”
Stewart clarified that there are “some tropes that are so embedded in society” that they’re hard to miss in certain contexts, while joking that his resurfaced comments were made “two COVID mutations ago” and shouldn’t even be newsworthy now.
“This morning, I wake up [and] it’s trending on Twitter,” the former Comedy Central personality said. “And … a reasonable person could not have looked at that conversation and not found it lighthearted.”
The conversation in question occurred during a December 2021 episode of “The Problem With Jon Stewart” podcast, when Stewart asked his guest, “Have you ever seen the scenes in Gringotts Bank? … Do you know what those folks who run the bank are? … Jews!”
Comparing the goblins seen throughout both the books and the eight movie adaptations to a piece of 1903 propaganda, Stewart said Rowling’s depiction of the creatures were a “caricature” for Jewish people.
“J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’” he teased. “It’s a wizarding world. We can ride dragons, you can have a pet owl … but who should run the bank? Jews. … It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s–t, [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f–king underground bank.’ And everybody was just like, ‘Wizards.’ It was so weird.”
Stewart isn’t the only comedian to poke fun at the apparent stereotypes found in the Harry Potter series. In October 2020, Pete Davidson took aim at the British author during a fiery “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live, shortly after she was accused of making transphobic comments on social media.
“What’s wrong with her?” the 28-year-old joked at the time. “She creates a seven-book fantasy series about all types of mythical creatures living in harmony with wizards and elves and the one thing she can’t wrap her head around is Laverne Cox?”
Rowling has frequently made headlines for her personal views on gender equality, which many fans believe to be excluding trans people. After she complained about an article that used the phrase “people who menstruate” instead of simply saying “women,” she defended her perspective in a lengthy 2020 essay. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and other Harry Potter actors, however, have denounced Rowling’s takes.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you,” Radcliffe, 32, wrote to fans via The Trevor Project in June 2020. “If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything.”