“Peter Rabbit” was intended to be a family-friendly movie that parents could enjoy alongside their children. But now concerned parents are boycotting the film for a disturbing reason. In one of the scenes, Peter Rabbit bullies another character who has a food allergy. Because this type of bullying is on the rise in schools and in communities, it sets a horrible example for children.
And if a child tricks another into consuming the food they’re allergic too, they could die. But “Peter Rabbit” doesn’t think this was an issue for concern.
When the movie was released on February 9, parents of children with food allergies quickly took to social media to express their outrage at the film. In one scene, Peter Rabbit and his bully friends decided to prank Mr. McGregor, who they know is allergic to blackberries. They throw the fruit into his mouth and watch as he nearly dies from an anaphylactic reaction. It gets so bad the character needs to use his EpiPen to prevent death.
Then Peter Rabbit implies that Mr. McGregor was only using the food allergy to get attention.
Parents were outraged. They understand how dangerous food allergies can be. And if they are not taken seriously, children can die.
Twitter user Cheri Kirsch quickly lambasted Sony Pictures for the food allergy bullying scene:
“Family planned to see the Peter Rabbit movie but will have to pass. Peter throws a blackberry at Tom knowing he’s allergic? Tom has to use his EpiPen. Food allergies are no joke. Very disappointing & disturbing choice.”
Alicia Batista tweeted, “Food allergies are not a joke. No one should support a movie that would encourage others to bully my child by purposely trying to cause anaphylaxis.”
The Sony Pictures fiasco started a massive discussion about food allergies. The CEO and President of the Asthma and Allergy Association, Kenneth Mendez, joined the conversation. He wrote an open letter to Sony encouraging them to “refrain from the type of programming that mocks food allergies in the future,” and pointing out that other children’s films by the company have included similar scenes misrepresenting those with food allergies.”
Mendez understands how food allergies can lead to death. And he is upset that Sony allowed a children’s character to bully another with their allergy.
“Living with a food allergy can have negative effects on the quality of life of patients and their families because they need to remain vigilant about accidental exposures,” Mendez wrote. “The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction — often referred to as an impending sense of doom — is a serious matter. Making light of this condition … encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.”
Sony Pictures needed to save face, so they sent the following email to TODAY Parents:
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, 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.”