Take Jon Stewart and J.K. Rowling off the bingo card of random 2022 celebrity feuds. In a lengthy video clip posted Wednesday on Twitter, Stewart clarified his viral remarks about the portrayal of goblins in Harry Potter, stating firmly that he does not think Rowling is anti-Semitic—nor does he think the wizarding movie franchise is anti-Semitic.
“I do not think J.K. Rowling is anti-Semitic,” Stewart said of the Harry Potter author in the clip, an excerpt from his Problem with Jon Stewart podcast. “I did not accuse her of being anti-Semitic. I do not think that the Harry Potter movies are anti-Semitic. I really love the Harry Potter movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age.”
He continued, berating Newsweek in particular for writing an article describing his remarks—taken from an earlier recording of the podcast—as such. “There is no reasonable person that could have watched it and not seen it as a lighthearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums,” the former Daily Show host said.
“I cannot stress this enough: I’m not accusing J.K. Rowling of being anti-Semitic,” Stewart added. “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 fucking grip.”
Stewart was responding to a month-old video clip from a podcast recording that resurfaced and went viral on social media this week. In the clip, Stewart and guests Jay Jurden and Henrik Blix are riffing about bar mitzvahs when the conversation turns to Harry Potter. Stewart brings up the film series’ portrayal of the goblins who work at Gringotts bank, and how they reflect old anti-Semitic caricatures of Jewish people. (This critique has been lobbed at the films and books before, among other critiques of insensitive stereotypes penned by Rowling, a notorious TERF.)
Stewart continued, describing the dissonance he felt while watching the movie for the first time. “I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy shit. She [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the fucking underground bank,’” he said. “Even Dobby was like, ‘That’s fucked up. Those are Jews.’”
In his new response, Stewart notes that he blames the portrayal of the goblins in the film on tropes that are “so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible, even in a considered process like moviemaking.” Society!
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— The Most Anticipated Movies of 2022
— All the Sex and the City Reboot Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed
— The Disarmingly Hopeful Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Station Eleven
— A Search for the Real Judy Poovey Leads to Succession
— Why the Opioid Crisis Was All Over TV in 2021
— Film Twitter’s Obsession With Weird Movie Merch
— The Second Coming of Octavia E. Butler
— From the Archive: Angelina Jolie’s Life in Bold
— Sign up for the “HWD Daily” newsletter for must-read industry and awards coverage—plus a special weekly edition of “Awards Insider.”