You’d think a kid’s movie like Peter Rabbit would be harmless enough but the CGI family flick recently landed itself in trouble over a controversial scene.
The film stars James Corden in the title role, and landed in US cinemas last weekend.
In one scene, the character Tom McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), who suffers from a blackberry allergy, is pelted with the fruit by Peter's friends. One blackberry even lands in McGregor’s mouth and he has to use an EpiPen to treat his reaction.
The charity Kids with Food Allergies Foundation said in a Facebook post “food allergy 'jokes' are harmful to our community.” They wrote: “The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy. A character is intentionally attacked with his allergen, leading to anaphylaxis and the use of epinephrine. Parents should be aware of this before your children see the movie so you can talk with your child(ren) about it.
“During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment. 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 hurts our members because it 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.”
Parents also took to social media to express their concerns and called for a boycott of the movie:
**Warning** For those who have children that live with food allergies (like mine), do NOT go see the new Peter Rabbit movie. Finding “humor” in bullying by Peter & friends to an allergy friend (who then needs an Epi) is sickening. Shame on @SonyPictures #BoycottPeterRabbit
— Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) February 10, 2018
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
I am a mother of 2 Anaphylactic Boys And I will be boycotting this Film
Are you KIDDING MY kids do not make this up for attention or sympathy .
I could go on forever .. Boycott PETER RABBIT!
#sonypictures #notfunny #foodallergiesisnojoke#peterrabbit #boycott #anaphylactic pic.twitter.com/yUdrhfwnI6
— Holly Allen (@FitFVLady) February 10, 2018
As a parent of a child with food allergies, I am deeply disappointed with the new Peter rabbit movie for including a scene where that is a punchline. Not a joke. @JKCorden you have the platform to bring this issue to light and make amends for it
— jason_diebel (@DiebelJason) February 10, 2018
Would you laugh at a person with diabetes force fed sugar? No. But that's exactly what you're doing in your movie: continuing to marginalize people with #foodallergies.
So throw an allergen at someone? I’m coming for you.#BoycottPeterRabbit
— â˜˜ï¸ÂÂÂ? Jamie â˜˜ï¸ÂÂÂ? (@jamiefid) February 10, 2018
Australian group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) created a petition asking distributor Sony Pictures to apologise, saying the film “mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis”.
Sony Pictures and the filmmakers have since said that they “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries “even in a cartoonish” way. “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise,” their statement said.