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Let's Talk About Hogwarts Legacy's Goblin Problem

Let's Talk About Hogwarts Legacy's Goblin Problem
Avalanche Software | Warner Bros.

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

29th Mar 2022 15:00

Oh dear, it's time to open up another vault of Harry Potter controversy. And no, this time, it's not about She Who Must Not Be Named. While the Wizarding World was once just about a magical orphan trying to fit in at school and defeat a dark wizard (as you do), it's since turned into its very own Wizarding War of transgender rights, race rows, and accusations of antisemitic goblins. 

Although Hogwarts Legacy has tried to distance itself from J.K Rowling - which might explain why things have been a bit quiet at the moment - the team has been keen to promote its diversity. Sadly, the choice of a goblin rebellion and goblin villain comes at an awkward time when the franchise as a whole has been called to task about its portrayal of the goblin race. 

Why Are Goblins A Problem In Harry Potter?

Gringotts Goblins
Warner Bros.

Earlier this year, comedian Jon Stewart seemingly spoke out against Harry Potter's portrayal of goblins in the books, and specifically, movies. Various outlets quickly jumped on the news, which led to a vexed Stewart saying it was a light-hearted conversation, and he was absolutely not throwing accusations of antisemitism at the Wizarding World. Still, the commentary sparked a wider debate that has now made its way into Hogwarts Legacy.  

There are some nasty assumptions about Jews being cash-grabbing monsters that control the money, so to have them running this world's bank while sporting big noses has raised a few ideas of uncomfortable Nazi caricatures from the past. Just like pop culture has been called out for its portrayal of Asian characters as a villainous "Yellow Peril" or that Black characters might be associated with theft, any link between goblins and Jewish culture should be avoided at all costs. 

What About Hogwarts Legacy's Goblins?

When it comes specifically to Hogwarts Legacy, the whole premise of the Goblin Rebellion throws up its own problems. The Goblin Rebellions are shown as a bloody war between wizards and the goblins, where "our" side are the heroes. In reality, the Goblin Rebellions were a result of the goblins clapping back about not being able to own wands. It was a restriction already imposed on House Elves - which are problematic in their own way if you want to get into slavery - and saw the goblins speak out against their own oppression. 

 

It's clear that Hogwarts Legacy is going down the route of the goblins being on the side of "evil" here, but if you look at the bigger picture, it technically makes the player the oppressor here. Things get even murkier thanks to the fact that goblins are being blamed for the disappearance of students at Hogwarts. Going back in history, some parents would scare their children with horror stories about Jews coming to steal them in the night. Although we doubt this was intentional, it casts a Dark Mark on the already troubled Hogwarts Legacy

Should Hogwarts Legacy Change Its Goblins

Ranrok Hogwarts Legacy Goblin
Warner Bros. Interactive

Ultimately, it's too late to change Hogwarts Legacy's story and the awkward placement of goblins as the main antagonists. Still, that doesn't mean it can't be addressed. There are sure to be outcries of snowflake culture and political correctness gone wrong, but given how Hogwarts Legacy and the team has been so vocal about its support of transgender rights, it could be time to raise a wand and comment on the accusations of antisemitic goblins being the villains of the piece.

We should also remember that choice is a big part of Hogwarts Legacy, and with the morality system seemingly letting you chose when to use the Killing Curse, there should be a chance to side with the goblins if you want. Hopefully, this will make the title into less of a 'them versus us' scenario. For the time being, Goblingate is looming over Hogwarts Legacy. One Reddit post titled "Hogwarts Legacy will have you fighting goblins who want civil rights" has hundreds of upvotes and paints a very different picture to the gameplay trailer. 

It's just another nasty notch on Hogwarts Legacy's bedpost. Remember, Hogwarts Legacy's Lead Designer was Troy Leavitt, who stepped away from the project when it emerged he used to run an alt-right YouTube Channel. We'll admit it's hard to gauge exactly how much the Goblin Rebellion will play into the story and whether someone else will be outed as the big bad. Some have suggested that the story has allied goblins with dark wizards as a way to alleviate any anti-goblin tropes, but as with all of the above, it's hard to prove anything.

Just like the only Asian girl at Hogwarts is called Cho Chang and Rowling had to assure us Jews attended because she'd written a character called Anthony Goldstein, diversity has once again been called into question. At least we know Hogwarts Legacy's character creator will give you a wide array of options. As much as we hear rants about antisemitic goblin tropes, there's an almost equal number that claim you're the problem if you see these characteristics in the goblins. Much like the First Wizarding War, fandom is split into two camps. For the time being though, there are sure to be some awkward glances around Avalanche HQ.