The new Peter Rabbit movie starring James Corden came out in theatres last weekend, and it wasn’t long before parents of kids with food allergies began calling out Sony Pictures for its careless portrayal of a severe allergic reaction.
The beloved character from Beatrix Potter’s classic stories is known for causing mischief. However, when Peter and his animal friends find out that their enemy Mr. McGregor (played by Domnhall Gleeson) is severely allergic to blackberries, they decide it’s a good idea to pelt him with them.
As they barrage him with the berries, one lands in his mouth, and he begins to react severely, so he injects himself with an EpiPen. This series of events, parents are saying, crosses the line between mischief and violence.
As a mother of a toddler allergic to several foods, I am disgusted that Sony would make a joke out of flicking an allergen at a food allergic individual. Doing so is felony aggravated assault! What kind of message does that scene send to kids?! #boycottpeterrabbit
— hydrogirl71 (@hydrogirl71) February 10, 2018
Now, these kinds of pranky antics to get rid of the “villain” character are common among kids’ movies, but parents are saying the specific targeting of the character’s allergy trivializes the real fear and anxiety that people with allergies experience when having a reaction. Since the film’s release, the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit has started to trend on Twitter, with more parents complaining about the negligent plot point.
— Carrie Acosta (@carrieisvery) February 10, 2018
Your movie makes a joke of serious allergies, and may promote violence against children with allergies. Any child copying the actions in this movie may lead to the death of another child. #boycottpeterrabbit
— Ian Duggan (@icdugg) February 11, 2018
If you’re thinking of taking your kids to see this “children’s movie,” please reconsider. Why are kids with deadly food allergies a punch line? What were they thinking? #PeterRabbitMovie #boycottPeterRabbit https://t.co/2i21emYddj
— Karen Costa (@karenraycosta) February 10, 2018
The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation also posted on its Facebook page warning parents about the scene, so they can be prepared to have a discussion with their kids before seeing the movie. How my son overcame his peanut allergy“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously,” the post reads. “This cavalier attitude may make [people] act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.”
Sony has since released an apology to the AP. It says: “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
The scene isn’t being removed from the movie, but it’s nice to see the company taking responsibility, and parents of food-allergic kids can talk to their children about the apology if they choose to see the film. That said, it’d be nice if Sony could do a bit more than just say sorry to help spread awareness and education about deadly food allergies.
— ☘️ Jamie ☘️ (@jamiefid) February 12, 2018
Does your kid have a severe food allergy or dietary restriction? What do you think? Will you be taking your kids to see Peter Rabbit?