By Raena Doty
“Hogwarts Legacy,” the new open-world video game set in the “Harry Potter” franchise, has already broken records for stream views on Twitch and it had already become a best seller on both Steam and the PS5 before its release.
The game allows the player to create their own witch or wizard, get sorted into a Hogwarts house, explore the school, and learn magic.
Fans of the “Harry Potter” franchise are excited to play the game - whether it’s the modern magic or the nostalgia factor, there’s no lack of buzz for the game.
However, all of the players seem to be ignoring not only J.K. Rowling’s political and social views, but also the antisemitic overtones of the game.
Rowling, the creator of the “Harry Potter” franchise, has been called out for her transphobic beliefs in recent years.
She does not believe people are able to identify with a gender other than what they were assigned at birth, and frequently equates trans women to predators.
Her opinions are not only offensive, but also actively dangerous. Rowling is a known political advocate, and she uses her platform - and money - to further her ideology.
In March 2022, she criticized reforms to the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would allow trans people easier access to gender recognition, according to BBC News.
A bill like this could save lives, as many trans people need this healthcare to alleviate gender dysphoria, which can cause depression and anxiety, among other issues.
According to Bloomberg, Rowling will profit from the sales of “Hogwarts Legacy,” and she can use her money and platform to push her anti-trans beliefs.
However, “Hogwarts Legacy” isn’t only bad because it belongs to a franchise created by someone with transphobic views - it’s also actively contributing to antisemitism.
The main conflict of the game revolves around preventing an uprising by the goblins.
Goblins have historically always had ties to antisemitism, but Rowling’s worldbuilding did nothing to distance her depiction from offensive stereotypes. In the “Harry Potter” books and movies, the goblins were already established to be greedy bankers with large, hooked noses - both stereotypes of Jewish people.
“Hogwarts Legacy” takes this a step further. The main conflict of the game revolves around preventing a goblin uprising that is being aided by an evil wizard.
The similarities between goblins and Jewish history, culture, and stereotypes are pervasive throughout the plot and world, according to the Daily Dot.
From plots which echo the “blood libel” conspiracy theory, to a goblin uprising taking place the same year as an actual uprising against Jewish people, to a goblin artifact with a design similar to a Jewish shofar, it’s hard to believe the antisemitism wasn’t researched.
I could say a lot about why the “Harry Potter” franchise is offensive. From the depiction of house elves, an enslaved race who like being enslaved, to the appropriation of Indigenous American folklore in the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, there are plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable watching, reading, or playing parts of the “Harry Potter” franchise.
For many people, “Harry Potter” was a part of their childhood, and they didn’t know better when they first read the books or watched the movies, often when they were children.
But playing “Hogwarts Legacy” is not about nostalgia - it is about how comfortable you feel interacting with antisemitism.
Is it all fun and games to play in a fantasy world while you’re actively watching antisemitic caricatures play out the worst stereotypes about Jewish people - especially when Rowling herself profits from the sales and antisemitic hate is on the rise, according to NPR?
No, I don’t think it is.